The NRRM wants locums so the region's full-time doctors can have more flexibility for training and to allow them to take time off.
Paying for doctors' housing is not new for Fort Nelson. The municipality has paid for doctors' accommodations since 2006.
“Fort Nelson’s always experienced a challenge around physician recruitment and retention,” said Arnold. “[The move to pay for housing] was sort of in recognition that communities can contribute basically to the lifestyle piece of what would make them come and live and work in a community.”
Housing and utilities are provided free for doctors in their first year, and afterwards they take on only the cost of utilities.
The community has other initiatives for doctors, such as helping spouses find work and registering children in school.
While Arnold said there’s not “a stampede” of doctors coming to live there, “we’ve been fairly successful in attracting physicians here and keeping them here.”
According to the Northern Rockies rental survey completed last January, the average rental price of a one bedroom unit in Fort Nelson is between $550 and $1,100 monthly. There about 170 of these types of units, and they have a vacancy rate of just over 40 per cent.
The average price for a single-family residential detached dwelling in Fort Nelson rose in the first quarter of this year to $362,000, according to the B.C. Northern Real Estate Board.
The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality also owns a duplex that is occupied by a a visiting physiotherapist.
“Accommodating locums at the rental duplex has been increasingly problematic given unexpected changes to schedules, the requirement to schedule janitorial in between stays, and follow up required,” information given to NRRM council states.