Housing, employee shortage has Chéticamp looking for answers

·2 min read
A housing shortage in Chéticamp worries local businesses trying to attract workers. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)
A housing shortage in Chéticamp worries local businesses trying to attract workers. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)

Chéticamp has a problem that isn't easy to fix.

Businesses in the Cape Breton community are looking for workers, but a housing shortage isn't helping.

A meeting was held on Wednesday to look for solutions before next summer.

The concern is how the village will deal with an expected tourism boom in a post-pandemic reality.

One business owner said one-third of their staff is expected to retire within the next five years.

The worry is how to fill those positions when there is a shortage of housing.

Alfred Poirier, the area's municipal councillor, called the meeting.

Matthew Moore/CBC
Matthew Moore/CBC

He said some businesses were forced to close early this summer because workers left.

"These are all things that are happening," he said. "It is a reality for all of us from Meat Cove, right up to the other end."

The meeting featured discussion on how to improve the situation.

Damian MacInnis, president of Colindale Business Solutions, was brought in to discuss ways to address concerns before next summer.

'There are opportunities'

"The possibility of eco-trailer options and using existing buildings and retrofitting them," MacInnis said. "There are opportunities, and I think we're well on our way to finding that solution."

Last year, a developer converted the old Tim Hortons into rental accommodations.

MacInnis said another short-term solution would be to take advantage of unused buildings and update them.

One of the businesses struggling is also one of the major employers in town.

Matthew Moore/CBC
Matthew Moore/CBC

The Co-op has over 40 full-time employees. Tyler Paturel, the general manager, says the shortage or workers impacts businesses of all sizes.

"What we need is for there to be more housing options for people to move into our community and to come contribute," he said. "There are many pain points that business owners in town are having to find adequate staffing for their businesses."

MacInnis said his group plans to work with the municipality to find ways to improve the situation quickly. There is a sense of urgency in the community to address the problem before tourist season next year.

"I know the community's in kind of a reaction mode now," MacInnis said. "But I know, moving forward, the people that we have in place are ready to take this on."

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