Nearly a year and a half after the start of construction, the worker camp that will house the Site C workforce is complete.
Energy Minister Bill Bennett and BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald cut the ribbon at the camp's grand opening Oct. 19.
The camp will house up to 1,600 workers, and includes a spiritual centre, hair salon, movie theatre, coffee shop, games room, a full gym with fitness classes, a convenience store, a massage therapist and a licensed lounge.
It will house the majority of workers on the $8.8 billion dam project near Fort. St John.
The $470 million structure was completed on-time and on-budget by ATCO Two Rivers Lodging Group, according to a BC Hydro release.
The camp was designed to compete with lucrative oilfield wages and amenities at a time of high oil prices and stiff competition for employees.
Asked if the camp now seemed “overbuilt” following the oil downturn, Bennett disagreed.
“When we were thinking about whether we should go ahead with the project, there were concerns that because of how hot the oil and gas industry was at the time, there would be a shortage of workers and materials and equipment,” Bennett said. “Since we made the decision, the oil and gas industry has fallen flat and it’s a little easier to find workers.”
He said that could change, with oil and gas prices improving and liquefied natural gas project on the horizon.
“That’s a cycle that’s not predictable. Between now and the time Site C’s finished, you could easily see oil back up again, and some very intense competition for workers over in Alberta. You could also see, and I believe you are going to see before this project is done, some LNG facilities being built, and those companies are going to be doing exactly what’s been done here: they’re going to compete for workers.”
He added he wasn’t concerned about the project being stopped by First Nations legal challenges.
“Based on what’s happened so far, the legal system has supported the work that’s been done by BC Hydro, because we’ve won everything that’s been decided to this point in time," Bennett said. "Until a judge says ‘stop,’ we’re going to keep building this thing. It’s the right thing to do, the vast majority of people in the province support it, and the vast majority of people in the province are going to benefit from it."
The camp also includes a pub, called River’s Bend, which received a liquor license last week.
—with files from Matt Preprost