Huckleberry Lodge is up in running in Houston and will be active till March 2022. at its peak occupancythere will be approximately 800 workers. The peak season will start in the summer 2021.
But just down the highway Nadleh Whut’en First Nation marked an important milestone with the celebratory opening of Little Rock Lake Lodge, a workforce accommodation site to house the employees working on the Coastal GasLink Project that will bring economic benefit to the Fraser Lake and area communities.
Located in Nadleh Whut’en territory, at peak construction, up to 700 women and men will call it home.
For Chief Larry Nooski, the Nadleh Whut’en’s role in operating the Lodge and ensuring the safety of people, especially women, represents a personal commitment to helping his community overcome the past by establishing partnerships that benefit Indigenous people economically and build safe, long-term, positive relationships with surrounding communities.
“When we started working with industry, including Coastal GasLink, we started to see opportunities for activities that could benefit not only our people but also the whole region,” Chief Nooski said at an opening event on Dec. 5, 2019. “Our participation also provides an opportunity for our people to ensure that the land and the water is protected while at the same time building future prosperity.”
The event brought together members of the Nadleh Whut’en and its business partners; Coastal GasLink and its prime contractor Macro Spiecapag Joint Venture (MSJV); Fraser Lake Mayor Sarrah Storey and other local community leaders. Stellat’en First Nation Chief Archie Patrick was also in attendance and spoke at the event.
Once the site of the Lejac residential school, the camp now symbolizes a turning point for the Nadleh Whut’en as they build new opportunities to reclaim history and chart a new path for the future of the Carrier people.
With the opening of Little Rock Lake Lodge, neighbouring communities also have an opportunity to benefit from workers who may want to visit the local coffee shop or find some ice time at the local rink. While Coastal GasLink has focused on minimizing impacts from the local workforce on community infrastructure, in some cases communities have requested to be involved in planning to find ways in which their businesses and facilities can equally benefit.
Mayor Sarrah Storey welcomed the benefits the project would bring to residents and businesses in Fraser Lake. “Our communities are really looking forward to the energy this [lodge] is going to bring to our area and our businesses, who are obviously excited. When you’re in a downturn, seeing things like this happen is huge and very much needed and appreciated,” said Mayor Storey.
Little Rock Lake Lodge will be home to employees of MSJV and its subcontractors during the construction of the pipeline, noted MSJV’s deputy project manager Richard Dale.
“It is our priority, that when our work is done, that we leave the people here with memories that we were good, caring neighbours and gave something of ourselves to the area in the time that we spent here,” said Dale.
When it comes to providing workers with housing, Tiffany Murray, Coastal GasLink’s director of Indigenous Relations said: “We want to set a new standard – one that reflects shared values with the communities we have partnered with.