Two major stakeholders in the ‘Prince Rupert – Make it Home’ employee campaign have responded to the affordable housing availability debate in which local housing advocates called out the campaign, launched on Feb. 16, for a ‘serious disconnect’ regarding affordable housing being ‘everywhere’ in the city.
“There is no question that employee recruitment and housing are the two biggest problems facing our community,” John Farrell, general manager of Community Futures, one of the partners in the recruitment initiative told The Northern View.
“Hospitals need nurses, the auto industry needs mechanics, and restaurants need servers,” Farrell said. “There is an urgent need for employees, and businesses need help recruiting them. This program is trying to address that issue,” Farrell said.
Ken Veldman, vice president, public affairs and sustainability at Prince Rupert Port Authority said the community recruitment program is an aid for local employers that are having difficulty being able to fill positions locally.
“It’s essentially designed to target potential employees outside of Prince Rupert, and gives them a sense of Rupert as a place to live and work, from the perspective of those of us that love to do that here,” he said.”It gives them a link to information that will be relevant to someone who would be thinking about coming here. And then, of course, it also aggregates job opportunities into one spot.”
“Take a look at what those stats look like in terms of comparing Prince Rupert to the BC average, or averages in urban centres in BC, or Alberta, etc., because that’s who this (recruitment campaign) is targeting. That’s where affordability comes in. This is still quite an affordable housing market from that perspective.”
In talking about the public comments that the campaign is ill-timed, Veldman said the campaign is for employers who are currently recruiting.
“In terms of just quantity, I believe we took a look (last)week on one of the job posting boards and saw in excess of 160 jobs available, ” he said.
“I think if you look at the job postings that are online right now, the type of jobs that we’re talking about are essential services, like nurses, teachers, etc.” Veldman said. “What this program is doing is addressing a need, that local employers are having in terms of filling those roles.”
“From the perspective of who this marketing program is targeting in fact, I would say that it is quite affordable housing here,” Veldman said.
Farrell asks critics to understand this is a five-year recruitment and retention campaign.
“Within that time more houses will come to market, including 60-units at Digby Towers and new residential developments in Port Edward,” Farrell said. “There is more effort being focused on affordable housing today than in the last 10 years.”
“I think we all appreciate that there are other challenges that need to be addressed in this full big picture. I think we all recognize that,” Veldman said. “But in the meantime, this program is trying to assist employers to do a very specific thing. And we’re hoping that we have some success with that.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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