Thursday, September 19, 2019

Igloolik hotel owners say ‘sea can hotels’ are costing them business

Igloolik hotel and bed and breakfast owners say they’re losing out on a “boom time” in the hamlet.

They say workers for two major Nunavut government construction projects are staying in “sea can hotels” instead of their lodgings, even though government construction contracts stipulate construction companies must use local licensed accommodations.

“The summer has been probably one of the slowest summers we’ve had in years although there’s lots going on in the community,” said Elijah Evaluarjuk, who co-owns and operates the eight-room Tujurmivik Hotel.

The Nunavut government has two major construction projects underway in Igloolik: a $24.5 million new high school and the $13.2 million wastewater treatment lagoon expansion and water reservoir expansion.

Evaluarjuk says although they have government workers or other visitors stay at the hotel throughout the year, his hotel relies on construction workers in the summer to make ends meet.

“That’s when we make a little bit of money to keep the hotel going throughout the year. Up to now, we don’t have any guests staying at any of the hotels,” he said, referring to his hotel, Inns North, operated by the Igloolik Co-op, and LRT Construction and Lodging, a bed and breakfast.

Evaluarjuk estimates his hotel has lost at least $300,000 this summer.

The co-owner of LRT Construction and Lodging, Lee Turbide, says they have four workers from Kudlik Construction staying at a rented home, but the six-room bed and breakfast has been at half occupancy for much of the summer.

Turbide says she turned away bookings earlier this year expecting the bed and breakfast to be full this summer, just like it was last year.

Since the beginning of June, she estimates LRT has lost around $80,000.

Turbide says the company building the high school, La Federation des Cooperatives du Nouveau-Quebec Construction, built a “hotel” from shipping containers last summer, near the hamlet’s airport.

The sea cans are joined together in a single layer and have electricity and plumbing, says Turbide.

Kudlik Construction, which is working on the sewage lagoon and water reservoir project, is also housing workers in a sea can structure, according to Evaluarjuk and Turbide.

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