Building inspectors are in the driver's seat these days as Magnetawan is finding out. Brian Horsman, chief building official for Magnetawan and Kearney, says two campaigns to hire a building inspector the communities would share have failed. Horsman says there's a shortage of building inspectors, that's resulting in bidding wars among municipalities. “It's no longer ‘can I get a job somewhere?’ It's become ‘which one do I want?’” Horseman told Magnetawan council as he explained the tough time he's having hiring. Horsman didn't name the community, but said he came across a recent posting where one municipality was willing to pay a building inspector more than $100,000 to an entry-level position. “It's been very challenging to find qualified people. It's at the point there's such a shortage that municipalities are falling over each other,” Horsman said. “They're poaching each other, they're offering more and we can't compete with that kind of salary.” Horsman told council when he advertised the position, potential candidates asked “what we might pay.” They then used that information as leverage for a higher salary elsewhere. Both communities face another challenge when trying to attract a building inspector. Housing prices have “gone crazy,” which may further complicate the job of finding someone who can reasonably afford to live in the area and work for both communities. Horsman has been in contact with the Ontario Building Officials Association, which has a college internship program in place involving students who are in engineering and architectural technology programs. He wants to know if it's possible to attract one of these graduating students full-time in an internship, mentoring capacity. As the communities get ready to start looking for a building inspector for a third time, he's recommending the job description be amended to reflect this is an internship program with a salary in the $70,000 to $80,000 range. He will also look into possible grants that can help offset the salary by paying for part of the internship program. Magnetawan council – as Kearney council did earlier - approved Horsman's recommendation. Magnetawan Mayor Sam Dunnett says it appears Horsman's approach “may have good potential”. Dunnett adds if this latest effort works, both municipalities will share the cost of the intern's ongoing training and will also benefit from acquiring someone who can fill the role of building inspector.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget