The Canada Winter Games is opening up a new source of income for Red Deerians by providing places for visitors to stay.
Carley Binder and her wife Amanda Keip, who list rooms in their Waskasoo house on Airbnb, are expecting visitors from opposite ends of the country for the games, which run for two weeks starting Feb. 15.
“We’ve got people who are volunteering, coming from Vancouver on their own dime, and they’re looking for an alternative. Another guest is from Newfoundland, whose son is in the games,” Binder said.
She said they have been renting out rooms for more than three years. When they started, there were about 10 homes with space for rent in the city. But in the past four months, about 80 more have popped up specifically for the games.
People also rent out suites in their homes and entire houses.
“There’s a few people in my neighbourhood that are putting their whole house up for rent, and they’re only doing it for the games.”
The couple joined Airbnb to make extra money to help with renovations on their older home.
“I think there are just a lot of people looking to supplement their income, because it is kind of a tough time. If they have basements, they might as well benefit from it,” Binder said.
Keip said it’s also nice that people have opened up their homes to guests during the games.
She said people wondered why they joined Airbnb because Red Deer is not necessarily a destination for travellers. But there’s been a huge cross-section of visitors.
“It’s the centre of the province, so we get people going from Drumheller to Jasper, and Jasper to Calgary or Edmonton. And a lot of Europeans like to stay in Red Deer because it’s a smaller city. It’s a lot more like what they’re used to at home,” Keip said.
Binder said they have met people from Colombia, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Venezuela. There have been medical staff from Edmonton or Calgary picking up shifts in Red Deer, as well as vendors who work trade shows at Westerner Park, and tradesmen working in the area.
She said 99.9 per cent of Airbnb guests have been great.
“It is a lot of work, more than what you think, but you meet great people and you have a really clean house.”