Despite the remarks from mayor Bill Streeper in a recent Northern Sentinel article, PTI Group CEO Ron Green is confident that their proposed workers lodge will, in fact, be beneficial to local businesses.
That’s because the nature of work in Kitimat versus what happens in the Fort Nelson area are quite different.
“This is a different type of worker,” he said of Fort Nelson. “This is a fly-in, fly-out kind of guy.”
PTI’s proposed development, by comparison, aims to integrate better into the surrounding community.
“[Ours] won’t look like…something that doesn’t really conform with community standards,” said Green.
And he’s certain that at some point during a worker’s stay at PTI’s lodge they will have reason to come into town.
While PTI at past public meetings have noted their other lodges sometimes have convenience store facilities, it’s not something they as a company seek to offer themselves.
“We’d prefer actually not to do that,” said Green, saying its better for workers to get into the communities and off-site sometimes.
“We’re all happier if we have outlets for recreation and everything else.”
The lodge itself will also provide job opportunities for local people. He said if they have a facility of around 250 people, for their first proposed phase for Kitimat, they’d been around 25 to 35 people working on site. If it gets to the full 2,000 people, over 200 people would need to work for the lodge.
And Green said for the company it works far better to hire people from the local community rather than bringing people in from out of town.
“We find that, just over time, we’ve done nothing but enhance what happens in those smaller communities,” said, referring to some Alberta locations, such as in the municipality of Conklin, Alberta, or inside a First Nations community north of Fort McMurray.
The Sentinel also asked about opportunities for integration of local business into their facility. Green said there have been opportunities included in their locations in Australia for example, where a barber will come on-site three times a week.
If there’s enough women there are sometimes demands for manicures and pedicures, and massage therapists are also sometimes booked for on-site work.
“We’re open minded on all that stuff.”
Meanwhile, if everything lines up exactly as they’d like they’d have their first rooms operating by the end of the year, but Green emphasized they’re not rushing anything. Even if zoning and other considerations come through, they still want to have a dialogue with the community to make sure they’re not butting heads with anyone.
“The important thing is to not do it fast but to do it right,” he said.
Finally, to the concerns that there may be social problems from their lodge being so close to town, he said the company has checks and balances to prevent that from happening, including a policy that any worker banned from the facility is banned from all other PTI facilities.
“In other words they really behave themselves because if they get banned from our site they generally can’t work,” said Green. “Our clients, generally, really appreciate that. It keeps their workers focused on their work.”