Relying on community to billet seasonal workers
It's been two years since the King's Wharf Theatre held its annual summer productions, and while it is set to return this year, the production company faces a new challenge.
"We have a great number of people who obviously don't live in the area but need to find affordable housing," says Drayton Entertainment associate artistic director David Connolly.
The production cast and crew are struggling to find short-term rentals. The theatre company says Airbnbs cut into affordable options.
"Where people are charging $150 a night, we usually have about that per week. It's become a real struggle over the past few years," adds Connolly.
Local realtors say Airbnbs are a contributing factor to the housing shortage, with investors buying property to rent out to tourists, taking away short-term rental opportunities for seasonal workers.
"When there's no housing, the people say, 'I don't wanna work here, I'm just going to find a job where I am. I got nowhere to stay. I'm not going to travel back and forth two hours every day to work'," says Royal LePage realtor William Myles.
Myles suggests the town restrict Airbnbs to a minimum one-month rental.
"For example, the King's Wharf Theatre, who is having trouble finding these, well now there would be way more because they're one-month minimum. So now it's a different renter, a different tenant that's going to be there," says Myles.
Meanwhile, Drayton Entertainment is looking for residents in the community to billet cast and crew members. It's a program that's been successful in the past.
Bruce and Patricia Henderson have opened their home to billets for the past 10 years.
"We think they're really, really good and an asset to the community. We just wanted to help them, help their actors and musicians and help out the community," says Bruce Henderson.
The couple says it's not about the money, just their love of the arts. They say they are excited to be billeting again after a two-year break.
"We had one young lady staying with us, and she was a musician, and she played the cello. So she had her cello here and would practice on the back deck," says Bruce.
"She even gave us a lesson," adds Patricia.
The King's Wharf Theatre has four productions scheduled this year, starting on June 23.
Drayton Entertainment is still looking for roughly 30 more billet families.
Anyone interested is urged to contact Drayton Entertainment.