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Mountain News: Jasper has jobs, jobs, jobs



JASPER, Alberta — The help-wanted signs have been posted in every second window in downtown Jasper. Housekeeping and serving positions are going begging, reports Jasper's Fitzhugh.

Jasper, Banff and Edmonton are the worst, but a new report form the University of Alberta finds labour shortages across the province, especially in health care, retail, hotel and food services.

"What we found generally is that lower skill and lower paying occupations end up having relatively larger shortages because when the economy improves, the people who are working in those sectors get attracted up to higher-paying jobs," said Darryl Howery, an economist who worked on the report.

The Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council forecasts a shortfall of 24,562 tourism-sector jobs by 2030.

Nobody gets voted off

BANFF, Alberta — Banff is a most unusual municipality, in that it is surrounded entirely by public land, that of Banff National Park. In fact, the private land of the town is something of a ward of Parks Canada, the federal agency.

And in 1998, Parks Canada issued a cap on the amount of space for businesses within the town and a similar population cap of 8,000 people. The idea is that a town is needed to help support the national park experience, but it can't overwhelm the natural surroundings.

Interesting idea — but the devil is always in the details. And one of the details is that businesses since the 1990s in Banff have become more intensive in their use of allotted commercial space. A restaurant requires more employees than a retail shop, for example. And there is no cap on hotels, which also require larger numbers of hotels.

That increased intensity means more jobs, means more population, unless workers are required to commute down-valley to Canmore or conceivably even an hour east to the suburbs of Calgary.

A new study commissioned by the municipality finds that the population could grow to more than 11,000 people in the next decade. And that means a housing shortage by 2022, according to a consultant, Housing Strategies Inc.

The study concludes that Banff will likely reach its population of 8,000 permanent residents between 2015 and 2016, prior to full commercial buildout, which is expected in 2020 and 2021.

Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen was skeptical. "It's hard to know whether those kinds of numbers will actually come to fruition," she said.

Whitefish gets old Whistler chair

WHITEFISH, Mont. – In the perpetual business of recycling, Whitefish is introducing a new chairlift that isn't particularly new. The fixed-grip triple-chair was originally used at Whistler-Blackcomb, then repurposed to use as a backup for Kimberley Alpine Resort, also in British Columbia.

Now being shipped by truck to south of the border, it will provide access to about 200 acres and 244 vertical metres of lift-served skiing on the north-facing slopes of Whitefish's Big Mountain.

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