A Prince Rupert neighbourhood on Feb. 23, showing various housing with an apartment building development in the background. Housing advocates in the city say affordable housing is scarce.(Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

A Prince Rupert neighbourhood on Feb. 23, showing various housing with an apartment building development in the background. Housing advocates in the city say affordable housing is scarce.(Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Prince Rupert Recruitment campaign creates housing availability debate

“There is a serious disconnect here, with the new recruitment campaign,” - Paul Lagace

A stir is being created for housing advocacy supporters by a new marketing and recruitment campaign launched on Feb. 16, to attract prospective employees to Prince Rupert.

Prince Rupert – Make it Home, is a new collaborative employment marketing campaign between several local major stakeholders to draw potential employees to the city in an effort to stymie the hiring struggles many employers in the region face.

Within hours of the campaign social media page launch comments disputing the affordable housing availability were being posted on the public page.

“There is a serious disconnect here, with the new recruitment campaign,” Paul Lagace tenant advocate with the Prince Rupert Unemployed Action Centre told The Northern View.

The information being publicized in various provinces and regions across Canada, by the partnership between Prince Rupert Port Authority, Government of B.C., DP World, Ridley Terminals, Raymont Logistics, Community Futures, and the City of Prince Rupert, states, “There is a place where it doesn’t take work to find work, where affordable housing is everywhere and the cost of living makes it easy to do more living …”

At the crux, is the reference to housing, Lagace said.

“Regarding Prince Rupert being the place ‘where affordable housing is everywhere’ – that is not the Prince Rupert I know,” he said. “The Prince Rupert I know currently has a less than one per cent vacancy rate. Nobody can find anything to rent – let alone it being affordable, for lower-middle-class folks.”

The average two-bedroom apartment in Prince Rupert is $1136 per month according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Lagace said. Housing is considered ‘affordable’ if it costs less than 30 per cent of a household’s before-tax income.

Shauna Wouters chief administrative officer of Hecate Strait Employment Development Society said from a labour market standpoint there are serious gaps and employers have had recruitment challenges for years.

“We have seen people accept jobs in the region only to not find housing and have to decline,” she said.

“We need to give priority to solving those systemic issues and not bandaid solutions,” Wouters said. “From a housing standpoint, we are at a crisis level for many people that already live here.”

She said that never before in the 25 years of HSEDS service in the region has housing been the main reason people can not sustain jobs, complete skills, or post-secondary training.

“However, we have been overwhelmed with the needs and the impacts recently,” she said.

“The timing and messaging of the campaign are somewhat concerning,” Wouters said. “One always needs to ask what the negative impacts of a new initiative will be. The impact of the recruiting campaign on the many people in Prince Rupert that do not currently own a home could be detrimental and damaging. It just seems out of touch with the reality here for the past few years.”

more to come

K-J Millar | Journalist 
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