By Cindy Filipenko
Forget stopping for a beer in Bralorne. The only business in the tiny town has closed due to a staff shortage. The 10-room Mines Motel and adjacent Claim Jumper Bar and Grill closed down on Nov. 5 when the business’s manager sustained a back injury that left her unable to return to work.
Finding a new manager in the town of 19 has proven so far impossible for co-owner and Squamish resident Jacques Beaudoin. Signs advertising the job have been posted as far away as Pemberton.
Beaudoin acknowledges that finding qualified staff is a regional problem, due in part because of the landlocked nature of the location.
“You can get out over The Hurley (Pass) or through Gold Bridge. It takes a certain type of person to do the job. Ideally, I think it would suit a couple best. They could manage the whole place most of the time, and when it gets busy, say a party of 20 is coming in, they could hire as needed.”
Primarily a tourist destination, the motel operation has been instrumental in serving the snowmobiling community since its inception. With the best early snow season in memory and five new commercial sled operators tenured for this winter, the closure represents a significant loss of opportunity.
“You come here on New Year’s Eve, every room in town is full, the pub is full,” says Beaudoin. “It’s incredible.
Many of those people who have booked New Year’s sled vacations from out of province have been told their reservations have been cancelled.
“We also sell fuel here and the guy who does in Gold Bridge opens whenever he feels like it,” says Beaudoin. “People here are mad at us for closing, but we had no choice.”
The locking of The Mines Motel’s doors represents a hardship not only for tourists, but for residents in both Bralorne and nearby Gold Bridge. But as time goes on, there are fewer and fewer locals in the area.
Bralorne was once sustained by mining, with 4.1 million ounces of gold taken from the three mines that operated in the area between 1897 and 1971. The Bralorne Mine was re-opened in 1982. In 2004, the staff was reduced from 60 to 22 workers.
Bralorne Gold Mines has currently undertaken a $3 million drill exploration program as part of an eight-phase program to develop ore reserves for a 280 tonne-per-day operation. Initial drilling results have been positive and they are beginning to drill on the King vein, the area’s richest gold source, that was first tapped in the 1930s.