Record editorial: Canyons Village workforce housing project is a win, if not a complete solution
The same debacle plays out each fall in Park City: The ski resorts and other employers recruit tens of hundreds of seasonal workers to staff their businesses through the busy winter months. The employees arrive en masse, jostling with one another for housing in a rental market that doesn’t have nearly enough capacity to meet the need. Many end up squeezing too many roommates into a unit, pony up for places that are difficult to afford on a liftie’s wages or settle for living outside the Park City area and commuting into and out of town.
The problem has become even more pronounced in recent years as property owners chase the profits of the nightly rental market and remove their units from the long- or medium-term housing stock.
Given that, there was much reason for excitement Monday as officials broke ground on a project in Canyons Village that represents a milestone in the community’s push for more workforce housing. The development, pursued by the Canyons Village Management Association, will include 169 units and is meant to house more than 1,100 people who work for Park City Mountain Resort and other major employers in the neighborhood, such as Westgate Park City Resort & Spa and Waldorf Astoria Park City.
That’s 1,100 people who won’t be left scrambling to find a decent place to live when the annual housing crunch hits in the lead up to ski season. That’s 1,100 people who won’t be idling cars on S.R. 224 in powder-day traffic jams as they head to work. That’s 1,100 people whose presence will help transform Canyons Village into a more vibrant neighborhood.
Does that mean our workforce housing woes will soon be a thing of the past? Hardly. The issue extends well beyond Canyons Village and is much too large for a single development to resolve. Residents and elected officials must continue to push Park City’s major employers — particularly the ski resorts — to do more.
As a member of the Canyons Village Management Association, PCMR owner Vail Resorts is a major contributor to the new housing project. Deer Valley Resort, meanwhile, provides lodging for about 400 workers in the winter. That’s certainly not nothing. But the shortage of workforce housing has ripple effects throughout the community, contributing to traffic congestion and other headaches, in addition to making life more difficult for the lower-wage workers who make ski season — and the profits the resorts and other employers haul in — possible.
The Canyons Village project is a major step forward, but don’t mistake it for the final destination. We owe it to our workforce, and our community, to maintain focus on this crucial issue until every last worker is able to comfortably call Park City home, even if only for a single winter.
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Our view: As Park City and the rest of Utah continue to attract more and more visitors from around the world each winter, the effects on our community will continue to grow.