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REPORTING · 28th April 2014
Walter McFarlane
Rio Tinto Alcan held their grand opening of the Delta Spirit Lodge on Thursday, April 24th. Dignitaries from Kitimat, Kitamaat Village and Terrace were present on board the vessel for the ribbon cutting, tour and much more.

Chief Jasse, Sammy Robinson blessed the vessel and those who came upon it. Among those who cut the ribbon was Joe Feldhoff, a resident of Kitimat who had lived on the Delta King during the construction of the original smelter.

“We’re very proud that this vessel is calling the Kitimat Port home for the next year and a bit,” said Colleen Nyce. “We’d like to think that this initiative is a tribute to our company’s original construction as well. […] 60 years ago, the sternwheeler, the Delta King, was home to the original construction workers, hundreds and hundreds of them and this ship, that we’ve lovingly dubbed the Delta Spirit Lodge, will be home to hundreds of KMP Construction workers today.”

Brent Hegger, Managing Director, said the opening of the Lodge was an important milestone in the Modernization Project. The Lodge fills two roles: not only is it a link to the past, but it is also going to house a number of construction workers.

“The development and delivery of a very innovative approach to accommodation and doing business such as a floating lodge like this is a tribute to the tenacity and the capability of the combined project team and all suppliers,” said Hegger.

One of the important parts of this project was the inclusion of the local First Nations in the discussions. Ellis Ross, Chief Councillor for the Haisla Nation thanked the people who arranged for the Lodge in Haisla Business Operations, Bridgeman and Rio Tinto Alcan.

“What we see this ship as, is a symbol of inclusion. We want to be seen in Haisla Territory. For too long, we’ve sat on the sidelines watching. Watching everybody get rich, get the jobs. This is going to symbolize what we really want to see happening in Haisla Territory,” said Ross.

Gaby Poirier, General Manager of BC Operations for Rio Tinto Alcan thanked the Haisla Nation for taking a bold step to form a partnership with Bridgeman. “It is important that we honour our commitments to the Haisla, to involve you in our project. I think this is a good example of how we are doing that and how we are stepping up to the plate to deliver,” said Poirier.

Brian Grange, President of Bridgeman Services told the media it was essential to involve the Haisla Nation. They would not be able to conduct business without the involvement of the Haisla.

“It is woven into our framework and not only is it an excellent opportunity for ourselves to build a business but partnering with the Haisla enables a number of innovative ideas and business opportunities in the future,” said Grange.

He explained the floating accommodations have been used in many industries in BC for many years. He expressed with the number of projects coming the coast, Bridgeman intends to bring in floating hotels to serve remote regions.

“By using floating accommodations, we’re able to create an innovative, on demand housing solution to projects while at the same time, create minimal environmental impacts on the surrounding areas, “said Grange.

Grange told the media the floating lodge provided instant accommodations and when all is done, the vessel can leave with little impact on the environment. Bridgeman has had the initial conversations to bring other ships to the coast of BC.

Rooms are a variety different sizes, 12 metre, 9 metre and 8 metre. Each room has a bathroom and a ‘really comfortable’ bed. We were told most of the occupants of the vessel spend their time in the ship’s public spaces and facilities, which include a gym, restaurant and several lounges. The most impressive space on the vessel was the Panorama, a lounge on Deck 9.

Poirier explained they had a land based camp. As the project changed they realized they needed additional capacity. They looked at several options before settling on the Delta Spirit.

Currently, there is a 450 unit capacity and an opportunity to increase this amount. They are close to full capacity. The vessel has 10 decks which are 580’ long and 100’ wide. They have about 500,000 square feet.

There are 52 staff members at any given time. This number may increase. At the moment, around 20% of the people working on the vessel are locals. While they are trying to hire locally, there are not many Kitimat residents looking for work so the ship has been staffed with employees of Bridgeman from Vancouver.

“We’ve made an initiative to hire locally as much as possible. We have a very innovative training program which we’ve put together to bring individuals into Bridgeman’s environment to allow them help train and become managers and learn the hospitality side of business that might not be dealt with in rural communities,” said Grange.

Grange explained the vessel traveled for 45 days to get to British Columbia. While on route, they experienced a bad storm. Once in Vancouver, the vessel had to be redesigned to meet the requirements to get ready to house workers. When it got to Kitimat, some people did move from the construction village.

Feldhoff, Grange, Robinson and Ross cut the ribbon with Hegger and Poirier standing by.
One of the larger rooms availble to the workers
One of the larger rooms availble to the workers