Opening on October the 5th the huge Tsawwassen Mills mega mall (and we are talking 1.2 million square feet, or over 17 football fields side by side) with 6,000 parking spaces and 160 of 200 stores needs employees to staff the place. There have been several job fairs as merchants scramble to find 3,000 employees to staff their stores. In fact the Bass Pro Shop needs 400 people for a 148,000 square foot operation.
For some reason there’s not great public transportation for employees that will work at the mall. But think of this-if minimum wage is $10.85 an hour,and a monthly bus pass is $90.00 to $170.00, a full day’s wage or more is eaten up pretax just in public transportation. There just are not a whole bunch of folks willing to work minimum wage who also have access to a car for the commute to this mega mall near the Tsawwassen ferry. This mall on the former farmland floodplain is approximately 30 kilometers from the Scott Road Skytrain Station. Coming from Vancouver or Richmond potential employees will have to use the Massey Tunnel, and deal with single lane access through the tunnel going southbound mornings to work. There is an express bus from Bridgeport Station in Richmond to the ferry terminal, a slower bus that has more stops, and a local bus that connects Tsawwassen. From Surrey to the new mega mall? Nothing.
Quebec based Ivanhoe Cambridge who are building this monolith are betting on the formulaic model of “destination” shopping like their Vaughan Mills Toronto and Cross Iron Mills location near Calgary. Glen Korstrom in Business in Vancouver notes that the mall has decided to operate a daily employee shuttle service to connect the Scott Road SkyTrain with the mall 14 hours a day. While such a service would make sense for transit users too especially at the proposed $2.00 a ride, its for employees only and will involve a 25 minute trip to the mall from the SkyTrain Station.
Quoting one business owner who manufactures and sells bean bag chairs who has had no luck finding employees for the new mega mall, “Metrotown is not a problem for hiring, we get tons of resumés. It’s easier for more people to commute with SkyTrain. Burnaby is also a more populated area than Tsawwassen.”
The Bass Pro shop has raised their minimum wage offer up by 5 per cent to attract employees at $12.00 an hour, with a few dollars an hour on top for commission. But with no public transportation and no car share planned, potential employees have been hard to find. There are eight days left until Tsawwassen Mills mega mall goes live, with or without staffing.