Last week was big for man camps. Dunn County has approved 5 camps that would hold more than 1,200 people. Now those people will have a place to live while they work, hopefully keeping them out of Dickinson rooms.
Don’t get me wrong. Without those workers there would be no one to collect the vast amount of oil in the Bakken, and North Dakota wouldn’t be experiencing such success. With the unemployment rate hanging around 3 percent and wages starting at $10 an hour, there isn’t much to complain about.
Let me try that again. Rent prices are sky-high, traffic is backed up half the time I want to go to lunch and people can’t build housing fast enough to meet the demand. How ironic it is then that people complain about these things when they don’t want man camps in Dickinson. Why is that?
I can understand that no one wants one in their backyard. That was the complaint when Target Logistics, a temporary housing company from Boston, wanted to build a 600-room man camp in northwest Dickinson. From what I heard, that particular company had it made. They would ship 90 percent of their employees to work sites, have their own restaurant and keep the people, for the most part, off the streets. Still people were against it.
So instead of filling up man camps, the employees that are going to come here anyways will fill up our hotel rooms and apartments, leaving no apartments for the locals. If you find a place to live, which is doubtful, expect to pay $1,000 for a one-bedroom apartment per month. And forget getting a hotel room unless you want to dish out $150 to $200 a night. Those prices will remain until the construction industry can catch up, and that could take a year or two.
Let’s look into the future a little bit. In 20 or 30 years, this oil boom could be over. All these workers will leave to find the next big prospect. A good number of people will not be here because they couldn’t afford the rents. And there will sit the extra apartment and hotel rooms with no one to fill them. What a waste.
From what I have heard people are for man camps. They just don’t want them in their backyard. They have to go somewhere. So you have to deal with different people for a few years. At least most of the man camps are modular and can be moved.
Dickinson residents may not realize it, but there are man camps in Dickinson. All of the workers are utilizing the hotels and apartments as their camps, so it isn’t as noticeable. Why are people fine with them living in buildings that are permanent but not with them living in temporary housing facilities that will go away?
Like I said, I’m glad oilfield workers are here. We need them, but we also need a place for them to stay . Dickinson needs man camps, and some may have to go in someone’s backyard. I hope someone is willing to be the better “man” (or “woman”) and steps up. The city officials are willing to do it, so why not its people? This city seriously need an attitude adjustment if they are looking out for the future good of the city. Otherwise, Dickinson could see itself turn into a partial ghost town.