April 1, 2017 4:20 pm

Hundreds line up hoping for jobs building Calgary’s southwest ring road

A job fair for Calgary's southwest ring road drew hundreds on Saturday, April 1, 2017.

Carolyn Kury de Castillo, Global News
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The lineup started at 8 a.m., two hours before the doors even opened. By 11 a.m., the lineup ran outside the Delta Calgary South Hotel, around the back end of the parking lot and back out to Southland Drive. All of those waiting were hoping to get a job working on the southwest ring road.

“The lineup now is ridiculous,” said Sheldon McCormick, who moved from Vancouver to Calgary and is looking for work. The equipment operator waited two hours to drop off his resume.

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“It’s insane. We didn’t expect there to be so many people. There’s probably a lot of people looking for work,” Christina Robb said.

Robb was there with her husband and 18-month-old daughter. Her husband was laid off six months ago.

“It’s been a little tough lately for sure, getting everything covered.”

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Work is set to begin on the southwest portion of the ring road this spring.

Saturday’s job fair was aimed at filling 300 jobs. The one-day event was hosted by KGL, the consortium building the project, and the Alberta government.  There are positions available for heavy equipment operators, crane operators, carpenters, surveyors, heavy duty mechanics and traffic control persons and others.

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Robert Cameron was laid off in September of last year from his job as a pressure washer. He arrived at 7 a.m., waiting for the doors to open at 10.

“I’m trying to pay my bills. I’m finding it tough right now. I have to worry about paying my bills, trying to hold my family together and pay for food,” he said.

Riley, who didn’t want to give his last name, recently moved back to Calgary after being laid off in Fort McMurray. He said there’s not a lot of opportunities there now for people without degrees.

“I’ve lived through a few of these ups and downs. I can’t remember lineups like this. I’ve always been employed one way or another so to see these kind of lineups, it’s a wake-up call,” Riley said. “I don’t know what’s happening out there as far as this so-called robust or rebounding economy. I don’t see it.”

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Geoff Rawson has been out of work since November of last year. He moved to Calgary from the UK for work and had been doing excavating work at a Calgary residential project. He was surprised by the size of the line up at the ring road job fair.

“It’s worse this year than last year. I’ve only been here for five years but you could walk into any job five years ago and now it’s very difficult.”

The southwest portion of the ring road is scheduled to be completed in 2021.

It will stretch from Highway 22X to Highway 8 along the city’s western edge and through land bought from the Tsuut’ina Nation.

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The MLA for Calgary-Glenmore said she was happy to see the large turnout for the job fair.

“It could be seen as: there are so many people who are looking for work but, at the same time, when we see that we are providing that platform for them to come out and apply for more work… Basically we are out there to help them,” Anam Kazim said.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc

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