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Volunteer and staff shortages could darken summer outlook

Last Updated May 27, 2021 at 7:42 pm MDT

CALGARY — Events are already being planned for this summer.

But while many are thinking about where they will be lining up for live music come July – the volunteer community that is relied on for festivals and events like the Stampede, are wondering how they’ll stay safe.

“We are worried though that attendees will expect a wide open event when really we’re doing things for the safety of the workforce and for those volunteers, and we need the volunteers to show up,” said Sol Zia, the Executive Director of the Calgary Hotels Association.

Those with the Calgary Stampede say, there will be specific safety training ahead of the event.

READ MORE: Stampede can go ahead safely if people attending are vaccinated, says epidemiologist

“We’re looking at the possibility of rapid testing for volunteers and employees, and of course encouraging anyone that is able to get a vaccine that is eligible, we encourage them to do so,” said Calgary Stampede spokesperson Kristina Barnes.

And it’s not just volunteers – a sudden spike of tourists will mean hotels need to adapt, too.

“What they’ve been calling their ‘COVID staffing’ has been in place for more than a year and the ramp-up will be difficult,” said Zia. “Those laid off have found other employment and we don’t have any access to temporary foreign workers.”

The logistics of events large and small, will still need work even once the province officially reopens.

READ MORE: Chucks cancelled, evening show ‘reimagined’ due to COVID-19, says Stampede

“How you get your food at an event, even thinking about food trucks, how we participate and do things,” said Zia.

“I think that’s going to be important that there is some set of guidelines in place for all these places around the city that want to do things out of fun creativity and just that need for us to gather again.”