Hiring local has graduated from good practice to necessity on the West Coast because a housing crunch is preventing new employees from moving in.
In a frustrating twist, the lack of available housing has made it difficult for Tofino and Ucluelet to hire the building inspector they need to address it.
Both districts have agreed to share a building inspector who would spend three days in Tofino and two days in Ucluelet each week, but, since January, two applicants have been hired just to back out, in part, because they could not find suitable living arrangements.
“In the end, neither were able to make the move to Tofino,” said Tofino’s manager of community sustainability Aaron Rodgers, whom the building inspector would report to.
“For this third process, we’re going to weigh our decision a little bit heavier on if the person is actually a resident of the West Coast…If we have someone living in the community and committed to the community, that’s a big piece.”
The most recent hire was a Victoria resident who was scheduled to start work on April 24, but advised on that same day they could not accept the position, sending the hiring process back to square one.
Rodgers said the setback was frustrating because Tofino currently has about 60 active building permits and had high hopes that the new building inspector would help move them forward efficiently.
“There’s concerns in the district in the sense that we want to be efficient, keep building permits moving and get affordable housing built…That’s important for us,” he said.
“The situation is going to cause serious impacts for people who are either currently building a house, or planning to build a house. The [Alberni Clayoquot Regional District] has stepped in to help us out with that, so it’s not a dead-stop, but it’s definitely slowed down and I’m really feeling it for the builders.”
He said Tofino has reached out to a commercial building inspection firm in an effort to handle some of its more complex applications and still has a contract with the ACRD for building inspection, though the regional district isn’t currently equipped to offer much assistance.
“The ACRD can’t provide us with the level of service that we need right now and haven’t been for a while. They’re stretched pretty thin,” Rodgers said adding the ACRD employs two inspectors who travel throughout the region.
“They drive back and forth to Tofino and Ucluelet once every two weeks now and maybe less in the future. We spend a lot of money on travel time back and forth that’s not being spent on inspections [and] we need someone here a lot more.”
He said Tofino must hire someone who has their Level 1 building inspection certification or is currently obtaining it and is far enough along in the process to have it by Aug. 28.
“I want to hire someone local, if I can. We’re willing to train the right candidate into that provided they can get that Level 1 by Aug. 28, because I have to have someone in place for that date,” he said.