by ROY WOOD
The group behind a plan to build affordable housing for tourism employees will ask Osoyoos council on Monday to provide free sewer and water hook ups for the 49-room bunkhouse.
The Osoyoos Employee Housing Society (OEHS) – a group made up primarily of employers in the tourism industry – hopes to have the camp up and running in time for the May hiring season.
Hospitality employers in Osoyoos traditionally struggle to find competent staff during the tourist season. One of the main reasons is the lack of affordable rental accommodation.
OEHS has secured a site for the camp on the Kalkat orchard west of 45th Street and north of Highway 3. It will include 49 bedrooms, male and female washrooms, laundry facilities and a gathering area for residents. There will be an on-site manager.
OEHS spokesman Daniel Bibby said in an interview today the $125,000 cost of setting up the camp is to be paid by the members of the society. Members include the Watermark, Spirit Ridge, Walnut Beach, Safari Beach and other hotels along with some restaurants.
Operating costs, including lease payments and the resident manager’s wages, will be paid out of rent collected, said Bibby. “This a fully self-funded model. So we will be charging rent.”
He said the group hopes to keep rents at about $425 per month including utilities. Rooms will be available only to employees of members of OEHS.
The submission to council is accompanied by enthusiastic letters of support from Destination Osoyoos (DO) and the Osoyoos Hotel and Motel Association.