Some Lake Louise Ski Resort staff were laid off three weeks after a fire destroyed the Charleston Residence.
The residence, known as “Chucktown” among the ski resort staff, was burnt down on July 3 after emergency crews responded to reports of a fire and a man standing on the roof in distress.
The residence, which housed around 165 staff, was evacuated soon after.
Later that day, police said they charged a man with arson following the fire.
Dave Schbeck, general manager of Lake Louise Ski Resort, said the resort is building long-term accommodation that will provide 88 staff with rooms and beds.
But the resort said it had trouble finding accommodation for all the staff members who lost their homes and belongings. Despite bringing in temporary housing, there weren’t enough rooms to accommodate all the staff members.
As a result, the ski resort laid off around 10 per cent of its staff in the food and beverage department.
“We’ve scaled back the hours of our restaurants, and it’s a direct result of the number of beds before us,” Schbeck told Global News.
“It was a discussion with the department heads and managers. … The bottom line is none of us want to be in this position.
“We’ve taken positive steps by reaching out to businesses who are looking to hire and told (former staff) we’d give them copies of their passports and work visas.”
Some of the laid-off staff are not happy with the resort’s response.
Evan Svendsen was hired to work at the resort as a dishwasher at a restaurant three weeks before the fire. Like many staff members, he lost everything in the fire.
But he told Global News there hasn’t been a lot of communication since the fire happened. Many staff members were under the impression they had job security at Lake Louise Ski Resort.
“After they fired a bunch of us yesterday, some people don’t have passports or IDs or visas. They can’t even get on a plane or go home. They’re kind of stranded now in a foreign country,” Svendsen said Tuesday.
“The reason that we got was that there just wasn’t enough housing for us. … I’ve been staying at Sunshine Village, and initially, I was told I could be there until the end of September. But then they changed their mind and said I have to be out by Saturday.”
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Svendsen also said some staff have quit their jobs in protest of the layoffs.
“Everyone feels like family here, so people have been quitting out of protest. After I got fired, my co-worker quit yesterday. So now they’re down to one dishwasher left,” he said.
Jade Weiting has been a food and beverage staff member at the resort for more than a year before she was laid off. An Australian citizen, Weiting cancelled a flight to go home because she renewed her contract with the resort just before the fire.
Weiting is now waiting for a new passport to arrive before she books a flight to go home. She was told that she could obtain photocopies of her passport.
“I’m kind of just floating around being my own as a human being with no documents,” she told Global News.
“I haven’t looked at getting a job just yet. My visa runs out very, very soon.
“But the paperwork they’ve given us is quite crazy. … You physically cannot use that as ID. If I hand over a photocopy of my visa saying I can work in Canada, they’re going to be like, ‘Well, what is this? This is not a legitimate government document.’”
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