Dominik Nelson

Dominik Nelson

$5 million Kwa’lilas Hotel renovation plan presented to public

What used to be the Port Hardy Inn will be transformed into a four star hotel

  • Oct. 19, 2015 3:00 p.m.

Dozens of people converged on the Port Hardy Inn Oct. 5 for the grand unveiling of the new Kwa’lilas Hotel. And judging by the plans, grand it will be.

Kwa’lilas means a place to rest, or bedroom in the Kwak’wala language.

Renovations to the hotel are expected to cost $3.5 million, excluding renovations to the pool, said Conrad Browne, chief executive officer of the K’awatsi Economic Development Corporation (KEDC), the organization responsible for the hotel’s makeover.

Browne estimates the renovation “all in” will be about $5 million.

“This is an effort that has taken a long time to achieve,” said Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Chief Paddy Walkus.

“We had dreams many years ago and we did not realize them for decades,” Walkus said.

In the 1970s, he explained, a woman from the Canadian government “came to our village” and told them “at this rate your people are going to be extinct by the year 2005.

“We were at a stage that apathy was a big part of our lives. We almost didn’t care what life or death meant.”

Thanks to a tremendous effort by the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw people, one of those dreams is about to come to fruition.

“It wasn’t band council, it wasn’t the leadership, it was input over the years by the people to make these dreams a reality,” Walkus said, adding that entering the corporate world is going to be a challenge.

Walkus said the band will also be focusing on the education process so that members can assume roles in the hotel industry.

“We’d like to see our young people grow into a more positive world away from that era of despair,” he said.

“This didn’t happen all of a sudden,” said Browne.

“The community spoke loudly about becoming a viable entity,” Browne said.

“There won’t be an inch of this hotel that is untouched,” said Browne.

The walls will be filled with First Nations art and the endeavour will create jobs for the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw people.

Already the KEDC itself has grown from two employees when it began last year to over 60, Browne said.

The third floor has already been demolished and the community will begin to see some rafter work on the exterior within the next two to three weeks.

The renovation, which includes luxurious guest rooms, fabulous lobby and conference rooms, will be complete by May of 2016 in time for the arrival of the first guests on May 15.

Browne said they are planning to expand the tourist season in Port Hardy by bringing in conferences, workshops and large-scale meetings to town.

When complete, the hotel will feature 80 guest rooms including two luxurious suites.

“They will be the nicest room in the town by far,” Browne said.

Walkus said he hopes the development will inspire people “to start doing more with their lives … rebuild the pride within the people themselves” and allow the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw First Nations to be “an active participant in society not dependent on the government for anything.”

The K’awatsi Economic Development General Partner Corporation (KEDC) was created in 2014 to capitalize on a strong desire by the community to grow opportunities.

KEDC’s mandate is to investigate and realize revenue, prosperity, skills and development for the community.

 

Just Posted

Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair logo
Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair cancelled again due to COVID-19 restrictions

The 2022 fall fair is still scheduled to take place in Port Hardy

North Island Gazette
EDITORIAL: What to do about homelessness in Port Hardy

‘people suffering from homelessness deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion’

North Island Eagles logo
North Island Eagles give update on the upcoming 2021-2022 season

The North Island Eagles minor rep hockey teams are getting ready for… Continue reading

Ma Murrays 2021 virtual ceremony screenshot
North Island Gazette wins big at 2021 Ma Murray Newspaper Awards

Zoe Ducklow and Bill McQuarrie both won gold at the online ceremony

Port Hardy council has agreed to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children being found on the grounds of a former residential school. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Council votes to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of mass grave sites being found

Coun. Treena Smith made the motion for the chamber to not host Canada Day celebrations this year

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read