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

Lack of security: why Vancouver Island food production is on the decline

Big Read: agriculture a big, expensive commitment as advocates push to make us more food secure

Port Alice CAO says goodbye for Sayward

“This decision was by no means an easy one to make.”

RDMW sending out new community newsletters

Hyde Creek, Woss, Malcolm Island, and Coal Harbour recieve the mailouts

RDMW and WFP working together to mend relationship

“We have come together to try and figure out the best way to find solutions around (the issues).”

New Woss Forestry Program up and running

The Fundamentals of Forestry Program started April 16

VIDEO: Moose found licking salt off B.C. man’s pickup truck

Tab Baker was in his garage in Prince George when the small moose gave his truck a clean

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

B.C. VIEWS: Eliminating efficiency for farm workers

Don’t worry, NDP says, the B.C. economy’s booming

B.C. student makes short-list for autism advocacy award

Brody Butts honoured for his role as a mentor and self-advocate

Austin Powers ‘Mini-Me’, Verne Troyer, dies at 49

Facebook page confirmed his death Saturday afternoon

Alberta man dead after snowmobile collision on B.C. mountain

The incident occurred on Boulder Mountain Friday morning

B.C. parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

Most Read