From Shanghai to Iqaluit: New hotel ships pre-assembled rooms across international waters

Plan will speed up construction by one year and save $6 million, says Qikiqtaaluk Corp. president

This is an illustration of how Iqaluit’s newest hotel on Federal Road will look. (Photo courtesy of Qikiqtaaluk Corporation)

By Emma Tranter

A new hotel in Iqaluit is cutting construction times by shipping its rooms from the other side of the world, its owners say.

The hotel’s 94 rooms and 12 suites were pre-constructed and assembled in Shanghai, says Qikiqtaaluk Corp. President Harry Flaherty.

Everything from beds and chairs to televisions and microwaves are already set up and strapped down in the rooms, Flaherty said.

“It’s just a matter of hooking them up.”

The hotel, located on Federal Road, began construction in the fall of 2018. It will include a 600-person conference centre, dining room, bar and gym.

Flaherty said the QC decided to order the assembled rooms to save time and money.

“Based on our evaluation and assessment, we found the best way was to proceed and build this in modular units … we would reduce our completion date by a year. And also at a cost saving of about $6 million,” he said.

The rooms left Shanghai on June 2 and are set to arrive in Iqaluit on July 24 on a chartered ship called the Happy Dragon, which Flaherty said will be “hard to miss.”

“It’s all yellow. It will be shining there out on the ocean when it’s coming in,” he said.

The rooms will arrive in 64 units, with some of those units containing two joint rooms.

And because the units are made out of steel, they will be completely soundproof, Flaherty said.

When those units arrive this week, nonstop construction will begin immediately.

“Construction crews will be working 24-7 with two crews working 12-hour shifts, one in days, one in nights, until the transfer of these units is completed,” Flaherty said.

Using cranes sent up on sealift, the construction crew will take the units off the ship, place them on trailers, and drive them to the site. From there, cranes will begin stacking the units into place, Flaherty said.

“Once we transfer them to the site, we’re going to have to assemble them right away.”

The units are labelled with numbers that indicate where each room is to be placed. The hotel will have five floors in total. Four of those floors will be occupied by rooms.

Flaherty said he hopes the hotel will be ready to open officially by mid-April or mid-May 2020, but its website will be open for bookings starting in September of this year.

Flaherty was unsure how much a room would cost per night, but he said the prices would be comparable to other hotels in the city.

Once up and running, the hotel will have about 60 full-time employees, with a goal of hiring Inuit employees, Flaherty said.

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(30) Comments:

  1. Posted by Give Up The Ghost on

    In the CBC version of this story, Flaherty stated that the “non-existent labour pool” of construction workers was one reason why QC didn’t build the rooms here. Can we now finally admit that future construction projects (remember the threat to cancel the BCC expansion?) should not have imaginary and arbitrary local labour quotas forced upon them? If the birthright org (QIA owns QC) doesn’t even bother to try and fill positions with Inuit labour, other companies shouldn’t be forced to jump through hoops, pretending there are people out there to fill construction jobs.

    • Posted by Double Standard!! on

      There’s always been a double standard in regards to non-Inuit companies being forced to jump through hoops that Inuit companies can bypass. It’s all a smoke screen!!!

      • Posted by Shawn on

        Q C should be charged there are lots of workers if you look . Same as there jobs hiring from Montreal Harry needs to go they were in Clyde I wanted a job but no they hired from Montreal bs

    • Posted by Highly Bemused on

      So, we can assume that QIA is going to reduce the amount of complaining about Inuit employment levels at mine sites, right? After all, if they can’t find enough people in the single largest community in territory…

  2. Posted by Soundproof on

    They’re completely soundproof? Can we please get apartments like that?

  3. Posted by WTF?! on

    Isn’t QC supposed to give jobs to Inuit? A lot of jobs could have been created if they built the hotel here with people that have no job instead of China!

    • Posted by Simple Solutions to complex problems on

      If only the world would bend to this cartoonish version of reality, how wonderful things would be.

  4. Posted by I need a job on

    Harry Flaherty’ where can I apply for work?

  5. Posted by Double Standard!! on

    Tell me why QC isn’t being taken to task for not using local companies & labour to build all the components of this hotel. Not only are they not supporting the local economy, they’re not even supporting the Canadian economy. Everyone cries foul play for not employing or training Inuit yet this was a prime opportunity for QC to offer apprenticeships in a variety of construction fields. QC opted to use China to build & supply these components, thereby failing to support both the local and Canadian economy. Talk about a double standard, “Do as I say, not as I do”!!! Have fun hooking them up & holding Shanghai accountable when things don’t go as planed!!

  6. Posted by Consistency on

    It will be interesting to see how good they are although this is crazy that shipping in a hotel from the other side of the world saves $6 million.
    Also what is the Inuit employment rate for the construction of this hotel considering it was built in Shanghai?
    Can you imagine what would be said if the GN did this for housing? Or maybe the QC should use that $6 million and do that, bring houses to the smaller communities and sell them.

  7. Posted by Unoriginal® on

    “Aqsarniit”? Isn’t there already a major building in town with that name? You know, the school? Seeing as you’re saving $6 million, maybe pay someone outside the QC boardroom to come up with something that won’t confuse visitors and taxi drivers. Maybe something with “Qikiqtaaluk” in it. Nevermind, I see 3/4 of your subsidiaries already do.

  8. Posted by Private Project on

    I get why people are not happy about QC not hiring local to build. But lets look at something for a min. Of those in Iqaluit Inuit or Not who have trades tickets how many are not working right now? Between the Port, Jail, GN renos, housing, and contracts in other communities is anyone actually available?

    The other thing is NNI in Intention is a good idea, but in execution is just a bunch of shell companies helping non inuit entities get up to 25% bid adjustment. So we are basically will to pay 25% more for everything. I am sure those QC talked to to build the hotel would be 25% more because why be stuck on a multiyear project and miss out on government projects that pay more? Outsourcing may not look good, but it gets it build faster and for less. And QC has a mandate to get a return on investment for its parent QIA. Its a lot easier to save $6million then to generate $6million and it shortens the time needed for paying for the investment. Overall if the quality is there a wise move from an investment stand point.

    • Posted by Give Up The Ghost on

      Exactly my point. Now that QC has admitted there is no labour pool, let this be the last we hear about quotas of local hires for construction projects. If the workers don’t exist for QC, they don’t exist for anyone.

  9. Posted by Tommy on

    That really must’ve been an easy sell for the Chinese to convince an organization. Any consumer right minded person will say all products in China are made cheaply, hastily, and breaks easily. Quite surprising Harry is excited and proud, but for how long, one can only presume.

  10. Posted by Jeff on

    QIA has their moral & social compasses way off course. 2 Canadians are being illegally detained & mistreated in Chinese prisons over the Huawei affair BUT that is no deterrent for Flaherty & QIA. Plus, $6M being directed to Chinese workers vs. employment for in-need NLCA beneficiaries. Something very! very! wrong with that picture?

  11. Posted by pissed off on

    Talk about a bunch of 2 faces people !!!!!!

    QC has been the first outfit to benefit very largely over the years from set-aside contracts and the set-up of “fake companies“taking advantage of the NNI policy and the land claims terms especially with the Federal Government.

    Now they are disregarding the spirit and intent of all these policies and bringing a bunch of Chinese people to do the work that local people could do.

    Nothing for the current sealift companies that give their best to serve the North and have done for years. Nothing for the trucking companies, nothing for the hotels and restaurants, etc…
    I have nothing against Chinese people but I would like someone to doublecheck the certification of their workers, the adherence to the Canadian fire structural and building codes,,,,,,
    Also the people of the North should be careful about dealing with the Chinese people .
    The Chinese are spreading their global influence by building and funding major projects all over the world. Especially in underdeveloped countries.

    Also it must be a lot more fun for the QC people to travel to China to be wined and dined than to walk across the street to talk to the local builders that are paying their dues in the North.

    The local contractors should get together and boycott QC en masse. No more snow removal, no more repairs and maintenance, nothing !!!


  12. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    I agree with Private Project that having the NNI is good in theory but bad in practice resulting in shell companies, and I might add a few “old boys” getting rich.

    But buying a prefab hotel from China?

    Especially as the Chinese government is right now holding Canadian citizens on trumped up charges, and are banning grain and meat shipments over imaginary issues – all because Canada detained the daughter of the Huawei executive – at the request of the delusional president of the U.S.A.

    QC screwed up big time here and I’m going to be laughing when the building starts to have problems. There is no way that it’s designed or built for Iqaluit’s conditions.

    Two item;
    1) if QC had built this locally (even with the issues of getting qualified local labour), guess what – the money would circulate through many local businesses and even go to pay some taxes before making it’s way into the greater Canadian economy, and I’m sure some would end up in taxes (you know where the GN gets all of their money)!
    2) there really should be many Inuit apprentices in all of the trades working on a project of this size. Those skills would stay in Nunavut and be available for future projects.

    So thanks QC for sending millions of our tax paying dollars to frigging China. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

  13. Posted by Okay on

    I am scratching my head on this! A strange decision.

  14. Posted by Mel Thompson on

    I am from the south, but even I get offended reading about this. I petition that QC Corps review and amend their statement on their Website as it is now (statement is below). They are putting Profits over People and in these challenging times – This is WRONG!!

    Qikiqtaaluk Corporation (QC) is a wholly owned Inuit birthright development corporation created by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (formerly known as the Baffin Region Inuit Association). Created in 1983, QC’s purpose is to provide employment and financial opportunities for Inuit in the region. QC has a remarkable track record in Inuit training, capacity building and employment successes.

  15. Posted by Private Project on

    For those making comments on the China Canada relations lets understand something. I am sure all of this project was well set in planning and moving forward before hand. If not that’s very short sighted planning. But the pad and levelling had been done before any Canadian had been detained…..

    Would more money stay in the North by hiring local contractors to do the work. I would say marginally depending on where they’re workforce was from, but I doubt it. And how many contractors actually put employees in hotels here? they don’t they have bunk camps or houses rented all over. Taxes, well its a payroll tax for the GN other then that its federal taxes, and I am sure there are taxes applied to federal import these. It did also say that these had been CSA inspected by Canadian in China, and will be inspected again on landing and assembly in the CBC article.

    At the end of the day, I wish the GN would take this approach to housing crisis, as yes they might not employee as many southerners living in the north, but they would sure reduce over crowding for Inuit……

  16. Posted by Fools on

    “Beiji Guang” is Mandarin for “Northern Lights” and would seem a far more appropriate name for this fiasco than “Aqsarniit”. Shameful.

  17. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    Just a comment here and I am sure someone will correct me. Does not the NNI policy apply only to the GN projects. Private businesses are not required to follow them when they are making purchases from anyone. If QC was bidding on a GN project then they would be eligible for the NNI benefit, but this is not a GN project. Their decision right or wrong, economically or politicly.

  18. Posted by pissed off on

    Paul you are playing right into to “legalese game“ that has been played out up North for years with shell companies, fake suppliers that are no more than mail boxes, etc…

    This attitude has resulted in all the obvious abuses that have been taking place over the years. A few are getting away with easy money while the rest of the Inuit are watching the train go by. 51% of a shell company means nothing. But it means a lot if you are a willing participant in the scheme and are happy with appearances only and not willing to call a cat a cat.

    What happened to moral standards that are behind the legalese and doing the right thing for your people?


  19. Posted by The OldTrapper on

    Private Project, agreed that this project started prior to the Latest China/Canada disputes but the Chinese maven made it clear in the past how they operate.

    Chinese state owned companies will go into a country and extract resources, leaving a toxic mess. China has taken over disputed islands in the South China Sea and made the into fortified military installations. Look at China versus Tibet. China is not our friend. China dumps steel below cost – or in this case uses it for the prefab construction.

    I am saying that if QC sourced the hotel using Canadian resources and labour that there would be a far greater benefit to Nunavut and Canada. QC is being very short sighted just considering the lowest financial cost.

  20. Posted by Putuguk on

    Business is business. QC is a profit driven enterprise that will do no good for Inuit (or anyone else for that matter) if it fails financially. Iqaluit is in an accommodation crunch and filling the gap quickly is a reasonable business decision. A pre-fab hotel is a practical means to an end.

    If QC did not go this route, it is a good bet competitors would have.

    I wonder how many business trips, events, conferences and whatnot have been cancelled or curtailed since the existing hotels were shut down. That has to be a real and ongoing negative impact on the local economy no one seems to acknowledge.

    And besides, I do not get a sense that these short term construction jobs are desirable. It is a regular occurrence for contractors under government incentive to hire local to be compelled to double or even triple their work forces in order to ensure a minimum number show up every day to get the work done. It does not appear like people are that excited about these kinds of job opportunities.

    And that is what it would be – temporary construction work. Because you need at least 4 years of apprenticeship to gain a construction trade and building a hotel would be half that time.

    Given this reality, construction employment may not be the biggest factor for an Inuit business making a major investment.

  21. Posted by Make a Difference on

    Every Inuk should be aware that QC has a board of directors. Find out who they are and make your opinion known to them. They are HF’s bosses. Make an effort if you want to make a difference.

    On the other hand, both QC and QIA’ s boards need to be more publicly vocal.

  22. Posted by Okay on

    Did China comply with NNI? I doubt it. This puts local and Canadian companies at a huge disadvantage competing. Basically, beneficiaries monies were shipped out of Canada. Good paying canadian jobs were also shipped overseas. A shame!

  23. Posted by Jobs on

    With all of these new hotels popping up, where are the training courses to go with them – particularly the hospitality industry? The GN and Arctic College need to get on the ball, soon, or all those jobs will go to the Chinese.

    p.s. NNI is a GN policy, not private corporations.

    • Posted by Consistency on

      This is a good point, where are the training in these fields. When i am in Iqaluit rarely do i see Inuit at the front desk, in the restaurants, or even house keeping/ serving. Having some short classes that help train people for those positions could help.

      Also yes NNI is a GN policy however it is just poor form that in Inuit Org doesn’t even try. Unless they are testing a new method out that will become the standard on how we build homes here now, and we can build these same structures in Nunavut.

  24. Posted by Concerned citizen on

    Isnt there enough hotels already in the Capital? Is QIA getting into a business venture? Did you get input from your beneficiaries? They know there is a housing crisis and they should have think about apartments not a hotel!

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