Winter in Golden attracts a lot of seasonal workers

Low number of rentals create housing crunch in Golden

Many of the community's new winter workers are struggling to find accommodation in Golden, where locals are also feeling the crunch.

Berri Jones and Kahlil Campbell are very excited to be spending the winter in Golden for the Canadian ski hill experience. Unfortunately their first week here has been marred by the fact that they can’t find a place to live.

“I knew a few people who had done seasons here in the past, and they told me it was best to just come and find a place when I got here,” said Jones, who arrived from Australia nearly two weeks ago now. She was not the only person to receive the same advice, and at the moment there are 13 seasonal workers living at the Dreamcatcher Hostel looking for a more permanent place to live.

“It’s also really difficult to judge places by the pictures,” said Campbell, who also recently arrived from Australia. “It made sense to wait until we got here, but now I’m starting to worry.”

Both in their mid-twenties and both well into their professional careers, Jones and Campbell left home because they were eager to snowboard at what is known as one of the most exciting mountains in Canada. But there was another reason they chose Golden and Kicking Horse.

“Kicking Horse doesn’t have staff accommodation, which is one of the reasons I thought it would be a good fit for me,” said Jones. “I don’t want to be living with a bunch of other people and partying all the time, I’m here to snowboard.”

“If I was here for that partying experience, I would have chosen Whistler or one of the other hills. Golden seemed like it would offer more of the experience I wanted,” echoed Campbell.

Dreamcatcher Hostel owners Abi and Gerald Wagner say this year in particular they are seeing a mature group of seasonal workers at their facility, who unfortunately are unable to find places to live. At the moment they can accommodate them, but throughout the winter they do have sold-out periods where they will need all of their beds. During those periods, anyone currently living at the hostel will have to find other accommodation, which would probably be a more expensive hotel room.

“This year especially I can say for sure that they’re such a great bunch,” said Abi. “I would vouch for all of them.”

And that is exactly what she has decided to do. Last week Abi put the call out on Facebook to anyone in Golden who is considering renting out a room for the winter to contact her, and she’ll help them find someone who would be a good fit.

“Sometimes when people put it on Facebook that they have a room, they get inundated by responses. It can be overwhelming,” said Abi. “This way they can tell me what they’re looking for, perhaps a girl who will be quiet because they work shifts, and I can try to pair them with someone.”

Golden has had an influx of people looking for winter accommodation at this time for years, but this season people are finding it much more difficult.

“Some people might be a little uneasy if they or a friend has had a bad experience in the past,” said Gerald. But he thinks there is another reason there is less long-term accommodation this year.

AirBnB is having an impact. People are choosing to rent out their places short term instead of for the season. They’re making more money that way.”

Municipalities all over the province, and all over the world, are seeing impacts from short term rental sites such as AirBnB, which allow people to rent out accommodation without going through the steps a traditional business would, such as business licenses, marketing, even insurance.

“The AirBnB phenomenon across the world is causing problems like this in communities,” said Lynn Moffat, president of Tourism Golden.

Tourism Golden is one of many organization in the province that is advocating for proper regulation of these sites to mitigate the impacts they have on communities and the tourism industry.

“With these barriers removed by AirBnB the opportunity is attractive for property owners despite the fact that short term overnight rentals contravene bylaws across most municipalities,” added Moffat.

And it is not only seasonal workers that are seeing fewer properties available. Year round residents are also having difficulty securing long-term accommodations.

“You’ll see a lot of locals are having trouble as well,” said Gerald, adding that he’s also noticed monthly rental prices increase lately.

Abi and Gerald are hoping that some people will come forward with rooms to rent. Even though they enjoy having the seasonal workers staying there, it isn’t the most ideal situation.

“It’s much better for them to have something more permanent, and for them to be out in the community,” said Abi.

If anyone would like discuss the possibility of renting out a room, Abi can be contacted at 250-439-7174.

As for Jones and Campbell, they’re grateful that the Dreamcatcher has been so accommodating, but are eager to find something more stable.

“I think after New Year’s if I haven’t found anything, I might need to re-evaluate staying,” said Jones.