Recently, the town of Kitimat, B.C. has found itself in a bit of a housing crunch. Hundreds of workers have been flooding into town to work on a $3-billion upgrade to Rio Tinto Alcan's aluminum smelter, driving vacancy rates down and rental prices up.
The solution? A 170-metre-long floating hotel to house nearly 600 workers plus a crew of 100 anchored just off shore.
The Silja Festival, an old Estonian cruise ship, has gotten a $4-million facelift, and has now been renamed the Delta Spirit Lodge.
"There isn't enough room in Kitimat anymore, with the [liquid natural gas] projects doing early works in the region as well," Rio Tinto Alcan spokesperson Colleen Nyce told the Prince George Citizen. "The floating accommodation... turned out to be the most efficient and fastest way to provide the accommodation required." The company also has a 1,700-bed camp in town, which is nearly at capacity.
Kitimat Mayor Joanne Monaghan told the Citizen that after years of shrinking, the town's population spiked from 8,500 to 11,000. Vacancy plummeted from a high of around 45.4 per cent in the early 2000s to less than one per cent now, and homes that would have gone for $450 per month in 2010 are now renting for closer to $1,800.
In addition to the smelter upgrade, workers have been streaming into Kitimat as part of preliminary work on the Pacific Trails Pipeline, which will transport liquefied natural gas from northeastern B.C.
The Delta Spirit Lodge, which is being operated by the Richmond-based Bridgemans Services Ltd. and the Haisla First Nation, arrived in Kitimat on Monday, and includes 575 rooms, a 378-seat dining room, a gym, a bar and a dance club. Take a look inside the boat in the gallery above.