Workers are pushing hard towards a June opening of the Kwa’lilas Hotel (formerly the Port Hardy Inn). In an exterior walking tour, K’awatsi Economic Development General Partner Corporation (KEDC) Executive Director Conrad Browne pointed out the new cedar siding going up on the exterior of the building.
The cedar was specially cut for this project with oversized dimensions. “We are thrilled with the quality. It’s really bringing home the big house feel,” Browne said. Behind those walls, about 50 construction workers, 25 that belong to the ‘kawa’si Construction company owned by KEDC and 25 hired from North Island firms are focused on getting the job done.
“We’ve basically got the lion’s share of the people who are in construction working for us,” said Browne. To date, Browne estimates the economic impact on the North Island (from Campbell River north) to be “a couple million dollars.”
Workers are booked into the KEDC’s other Port Hardy property, the Pierside Landing, and are spending their dollars on dining out, replacing broken tools, etc.Inside, workers are at the paint and drywall stage, but before they reached that point, the hotel was basically torn back to the studs – revealing one of the biggest surprises – no vapour barrier, said Browne. So all new insulation was put in, the barrier was installed, along with drywall that is double the thickness of the old material.In addition, the hotel received all new electrical, wiring, plumbing, heating an cooling system, roof, windows, and even a traditional smoke hole.
There will also be a new grand entrance.Furniture arrived last week and was stored in the pub area so it could be moved right into rooms as painting and flooring was completed. “We’re planning a soft opening for June 1 and be full on by June 15. Is it going to be a big push? You bet it is,” he said. “We’re taking it as a very personal challenge” to be ready on time.
In addition to the rooms, construction is also happening on the conference centre portion of the hotel which “will take a few extra weeks.” This work includes raising the ceiling from eight feet to 12 feet. The pub, pool and restaurant will also be renovated in time to be open this summer. Once complete, the Kwa’lilas Hotel is going to be “something that the Nation is going to be proud of and the whole community can be proud of,” say Browne. “We’re trying to be ‘that’ place.”