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Mountain News: Labour shortages unusually high

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JASPER, Alberta — Filling all the jobs in Jasper's high summer season is always a challenge. This year seems worse, reported the Jasper Fitzhugh.

In early June, 380 jobs were available, more than double the number of jobs posted at the same time last year. "We're already seeing managers making beds in hotels," said Ginette Marcoux, executive director for the Jasper Employment and Education Centre. "That usually doesn't happen until August. The fact that we're seeing that in June is telling."

Why is this? She cited the lack of housing, fewer university students, and changes to Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker program. Employers in the low-wage service sector cannot access that program if the regional unemployment rate is six per cent or higher. The unemployment rate in that part of Canada stands at 6.9 per cent.

As for university students, employers may not favour them because they leave when schools resume in mid-August, when tourist season continues.

Reefer's catching up with booze

FRISCO, Colo. — In terms of mood-altering substances, beer, wine, and liquor still outpace marijuana. But the Summit Daily News reported that marijuana is gaining on alcohol, as measured by sales tax collections.

Alcohol last year generated $346,000 for the town, compared to $213,000 from marijuana. But the liquor sales do not include what is sold in restaurants and bars.

Legal sales of marijuana began in 2014. Will volumes slow after this initial spurt?

"No, I don't think so at all," said Patrick Linfante, assistant manager for Native Roots, the busier of the two marijuana stores in Frisco.

Small surge in demand

HAILEY, Idaho — Home sizes in ski towns and mountain valleys got much, much bigger over the decades. After the Great Recession, there were reports of smaller homes. Is that continuing?

The evidence from the Hailey area, about 15 minutes down-valley from Ketchum and Sun Valley, is slim and anecdotal in nature. But that evidence is that yes, home sizes are getting smaller. For example, the Sonitalena Cottages, which are now under construction, range in size from 170 to 430 square metres. Another project has homes of 260 square feet.

Chase Gouley, a designer and project manager, told the Idaho Mountain Express that the success of these projects has "opened people's eyes as to what can be done and to what people want."

But just four years ago — after the recession — people were looking for homes with multiple dining rooms and spacious bedrooms. Now, he says, "some people are beginning to see that they would rather be outside around here and have a tiny place to hang their stuff and cook a meal."

One of the local developers, Jim Warjone, is proposing rental units of less than 60 sq. m., what are called micro-apartments. He has completed similar developments in Seattle.

Stories from the food festival

ASPEN, Colo. — Aspen hosted the Food and Beverage Festival last weekend, and it was a busy, busy time in Aspen. The event draws a very well-heeled crowd. Consider that it costs $1,650 for a weekend pass.

This is the 35th year for the festival. The event was launched in 1983, when June was a somewhat slower month in Aspen. There were 50 winemakers pouring for just 300 guests.

It was an instant hit, but not a financial success. That didn't come until a pairing several years later with Food and Wine Magazine and a rebranding as the Aspen-Snowmass Food & Wine Classic. "And, as they say, the rest is history," The Aspen Times wrote.

Now, the festival attracts big-name chefs from far away to talk about chocolate and whatever else. For example, the first seminar on Saturday morning had renowned chef Daniel Boulud holding a skinned rabbit high in the air. "Once you go rabbit, you never go back," he said.

It wasn't the only time he dangled a dead animal in the packed house at the "Exotic Mediterranean" seminar, Times correspondent Rose Laudicina wrote. What ensued were "three delicious dishes inspired by the Mediterranean with three wine pairings." The second, octopus — two of them, followed by a more sedate honey-glazed eggplant.

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