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‘Can’t even rent a windowless suite’: City of Nelson sees hiring challenges

When it comes to attracting younger government workers, the City of Nelson finds itself in a similar position as other employers – it’s getting tough to fill those positions.

City councillors heard from Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Colin McClure last week (Dec. 17), a government job with a pension doesn’t seem to be enough to attract talent, especially when people in their 20s and 30s are attracted to hot job sectors like construction.

“(We’re) not always the employer of choice,” McClure said, saying some local construction firms are poaching skilled labour from each other for a few more bucks.

He says the corporation needs to do a better job of selling the pension perk to younger workers.

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“It’s hard to press upon a young mind that, at 25 or 30, that paying $600 a month or $400 a month into a pension. It’s like (they are), well, wait a second, I work for so-and-so in the private (sector), (and) that goes directly into my pocket,” McClure explained during a discussion on future financial pressures for Nelson.

“We are having a hard time.”

Employees are not only leaving but the municipality is dealing with “the great retirement” of Baby Boomers, McClure added.

The City of Nelson has a workforce of approximately 175 employees and “we still have empty positions.” A check of the City of Nelson website as of Wednesday morning shows no vacancies.

Housing costs are also putting a damper on bringing prospects through the doors at city hall.

McClure says some hires have changed their mind after learning they “can’t even rent a windowless suite.”

The latest housing figures from the Kootenay Association of Realtors bear out the continued pressure on home affordability.

As of the end of November, a house in the Kootenays averaged $447,287 – a 17 per cent increase versus the same period in 2020.

Opportunities to even buy a home were also scarce with 762 units on the market at the end of November – the lowest number of active listings for a November in more than two decades.

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