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'Hotel-like' Site C worker camp to boast theatre, gym, licensed lounge

The proponent chosen by BC Hydro to build lodging for Site C dam workers says the facility will include a movie theatre, gym, licensed lounge, multi-faith centre and single bedrooms with TVs and Wi-Fi.

The proponent chosen by BC Hydro to build lodging for Site C dam workers says the facility will include a movie theatre, gym, licensed lounge, multi-faith centre and single bedrooms with TVs and Wi-Fi.

The utility recently announced that Two Rivers Lodging Group was selected to build the facility for 1,600 workers over two other short-listed proponents — Peace River Housing Partners and Plenary Living.

“We’re pleased that — after a rigorous evaluation process — we have selected an experienced and qualified preferred proponent for Site C worker accommodation, within the budget established for this contract,” wrote David Conway, a BC Hydro Site C spokesperson.              

BC Hydro expects to award the official contract late this summer. Conway said at that time, the company will say how much Two Rivers will receive for the work. 

Construction is expected to begin this year. The first phase, planned for completion in early 2016, will accommodate 300 people. The second phase will house 900 people, followed by a third phase for a further 400 people.

According to Alisa Charkova, ATCO Structures senior advisor for external communications, the accommodations will provide room for 1,600 to 2,200 workers when completed.

A three-story building will include single bedrooms equipped with TVs and Wi-Fi.

“The lodge will feature a central lobby that will give the building an open, hotel-like feel as well as a multi-faith centre, 100-person movie theatre and licensed lounge, and a stand-alone gymnasium that will include a running track and separate weight training area,” ATCO’s website states. “To further enhance remote working conditions, services such as physiotherapy, massage and hairdressing will also be available at the lodge.”

It will also include a wastewater treatment plant.

Workers will not be required to reside in the camp, but BC Hydro is hoping that the camps amenities will lure people into staying there.

Two Rivers Lodging Group is part of ATCO Structures, an Alberta-based company that provides temporary worker housing for industrial projects.

“The preferred proponent is contractually obligated to provide a specified amount of contracting opportunities to identified First Nations,” wrote Conway.

While BC Hydro has promised opportunities would be available for local contractors, Conway could not provide further detail.

Conway could not give an estimate as to how many people would be employed to construct the Site C accommodations.

Conway wrote that sessions are planned for this fall that will connect local and regional businesses and job-seekers with Two Rivers Lodging Group and respondents to other Site C contracts.

The contractor will remove the camp upon completion of the project.

“We have had discussions with worker accommodation manufacturers and operators and their advice has been that the infrastructure is unlikely to be in appropriate condition to convert into permanent housing and that the costs associated with dismantling, repurposing and re-constructing the units can be prohibitive,” wrote Conway.

“In addition to the on-site worker accommodation, BC Hydro is building a total of 50 new rental housing units in Fort St. John,” Conway added. “Forty units will be used by construction workers and their families during project construction, and 10 units will be available for immediate use by the community. At the completion of construction, all 50 units will remain for use as affordable rental housing for community use.”

Site C faces a series of lawsuits from impacted landowners and First Nations in provincial and federal courts.

“We are continuing with procurement process now in order to maintain the project schedule as we plan for construction to begin this summer,” Conway wrote. “We are not going to speculate on the outcome of the legal proceedings, as they are still underway.”

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