Job boom is a housing bust for Manitoba city
Published Saturday, October 25, 2008 10:54PM EDT
An economic boom has hit Thompson, Manitoba, but a flood of workers lured by new jobs are struggling to find somewhere to live in the northern town.
Some new arrivals, like ironworkers Fred Swift and Randy Harder, are roughing it at a campground.
The two bought a camper trailer their first week in Thompson. They followed the promise of work to the city, but quickly found the community offered little in the way of affordable housing.
The reason for the housing shortage is a population explosion fuelled by recent projects like the expansion of the Vale Inco. nickel mine and the Wuskwatim Hydro project.
Recent census figures show a total of 13,000 Thompson residents, but the actual number is believed to be closer to 18,000.
Swift said that he, like other workers, had little choice but to set up at the campground after finding that the price of single rooms available for rent was set as high as $1,200 per month.
"Probably half our crew (is) staying at the campground," Swift told CTV Winnipeg.
Murray Kadys of Century 21 says he's having no trouble finding interest in his offerings and homes have been selling fast.
"I look after a number of apartment buildings and we're running at pretty well 100 per cent capacity," he said.
Kadys says houses that once sold for $50,000 about 20 years ago now sell for closer to $300,000 dollars.
"I've had a number of clients who've purchased homes strictly for the purpose of renting them out and in cases where three-bedroom homes may have three contract employees living in them," Kadys said.
Economic development officer Mark Matiasek says the economic boom has created a problem that needs to be addressed by both the government and businesses.
"We're dealing with the private sector but we also need the public sector to come to the table," Matiasek said.
The city said it's working on attracting developers to create high-density housing to help with the housing crunch.
With a report from CTV's Joe Olafson