Business is booming on the Mid-Island right now, so much that in early May tour companies and campgrounds are already reporting they’re full for the summer.
But what’s expected to be a record breaking year for tourism, construction and the local economy comes amid a major labour shortage that’s also not been seen there for years. So Wednesday MLA’s toured local businesses to find out what’s happening.
When Beverly Wells started the children’s shop A Diva’s Closet in Nanaimo, she only hoped this kind of success would follow.
“I feel very fortunate to meet and grow with a lot of moms,”says Wells.
But now, demand for what her little Nanaimo store is selling just six months after opening has led to her hiring two employees to give herself a break.
Its a success echoed a few doors down, at Moksha Yoga.
“Yeah I love it here. I’ve never worked in a place like this and I didn’t know it existed until I found it,” says MokshaYoga’s Lisa Moore.
This small business offers hot yoga and t’s grown from just two employees to a team of fifty in just a few years.
But as MLA’s tour Nanaimo small businesses and hear how business is thriving, they’re also hearing about a labour shortage affecting everything from restaurants to construction firms.
“To understand what’s going on in the community and what some of their challenges are,” says MLA for Parksville-Qualicum Michelle Stillwell.
Kim Smythe of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce says it’s a symptom of a booming economy combined with a low Canadian dollar that’s fuelling people to travel to and purchase on Vancouver Island.
“Certainly the tour operators that I’ve spoken to, the hospitality people that I’ve spoken to are saying this is maybe the best ever,” says Smythe.
But finding skilled staff is proving difficult for all industries as bookings pour in.
“Thats right and it’s a very, very difficult thing to deal with because you don’t have time to catch up to the market demand to serve people,” says Smythe.
While government works with universities to increase the number of skilled grads, businesses expect to be run off their feet in the short term. As the season ahead offers businesses great opportunities, if they only they can find the workers to seize them.
“This year opportunity’s not knocking it’s coming in. It’s coming right in the door at us,” says Smythe.