Big White builds new staff accommodations to address housing challenges

Big White Ski Resort is in the process of building new staff accommodation housing in the Black Forest area – the first of four buildings planned for the present site on Black Forest Road.

With the housing crunch, tourism employers have been hit hard by challenges as their staff and potential candidates struggle to find and secure accommodations. This is especially true for seasonal businesses such as ski resorts, which get a large influx of visitors during the winter season.

To address this, Big White Ski Resort Ltd. is putting $3.5 million towards a new staff accommodation building, which will contain five four-bedroom units, each with a common area and kitchen, in addition to four studios with washrooms and cooking facilities. It will create the start of a subdivision in the Black Forest area, with residents of the area having easy access to the Black Forest Express Quad and Lara’s Gondola in Happy Valley.

This building will add to the number of on-mountain units owned by the corporation. Currently, about 98% of accommodation on the mountain is owned by private citizens, with about 2% owned by Big White Ski Resort Ltd.

“As British Columbia’s second most popular ski resort, we rely on over 1000 mountain staff members living on the mountain,” said Michael J. Ballingall, Senior Vice President of Big White Ski Resort. “With private citizens switching their accommodation availability out of staff accommodation and into Air B&B, we’re running short of hundreds of beds.”

This has resulted in the lift company putting dollars into the staff accommodation realm that were previously earmarked for more resort infrastructure and tourism facilities.

“We’re building the first set of units this year, and it’s on the books to do it every season for the next three years – unless the economy changes again and more accommodation becomes available,” added Michael.

Artist rendering of the completed staff accommodation building

The building is currently being pre-manufactured and built offsite by Kelowna locally-owned and family-operated company, Chaparral Industries. A team of 30 people have been dedicated to the Black Forest staff accommodation project, with all materials and supplies locally sourced & supplied, from lumber to custom built cabinetry. A company from Nanaimo, BC is providing on-site craning and construction.

“We are utilizing the most modern methods of construction to ensure energy efficiency and minimal environmental impact,” said Alan Mann, Chief Executive Officer of Chaparral Industries. “The architect’s building design also incorporates energy recovery ventilators and radiant heating panels.”

Big White opted for modular building to lessen the environmental impact on the area, as there is significantly less on-site activity and disturbance to the natural surroundings.

Original release courtesy of Big White Ski Resort Ltd. This article is reprinted here with the permission from Big White Ski Resort Ltd.