Muskrat Falls workers housed in military base2/25/2013
A large overflow of Muskrat Falls workers moving into the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area is causing a housing shortage, so they're now being housed in the local military base.
Nalcor vice-president Gilbert Bennett said putting workers in 5 Wing Goose Bay is a temporary fix until the company completes on-site camps.
"If we were looking at accommodating 1,500 people in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area, that would be a major issue — and certainly this is a part of our mitigation strategy was to develop the camp at site," Bennett said.
"We've got some short-term overlap here while we get our accommodations up to speed at the site."
Leo Abbass, the mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, said he was pleased the base was able to accommodate workers, but not necessarily happy with the lack of housing in the community.
"I'm glad that the base has been able to provide some accommodation, because we're maxed out here in town with space," Abbass said.
"The hotels are full, [it's] tough to get an apartment, tough to find housing here."
Larger housing issue
Abbass said it is a temporary fix to a big problem, and he does not expect the base will open its doors to other people.
The town has been advocating for access to the base for some time. Abbass said the community will continue to lobby for access to the base until adequate housing is available in the town.
"As a town, we're developing space for new accommodations," Abbass said. "I would say [in] the next two years, there will be a lot more accommodations available for those who are moving into the area. As a short-term fix, this works."
Bennett said the base traditionally does not want to compete with local businesses, but the lack of available housing in the community led to the base opening its doors to contract workers.
"We're using a variety of alternatives to house workers in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. We're using hotel space, we're using private accommodations, and now we have an arrangement for some short-term accommodations at 5 Wing," he said.
"It's part of our growth plan. Certainly, the starter camp was ordered in the latter part of last year [and] we're in the process of getting utilities to that site."
Bennett expects the workers to be in the base for about a month — long enough for the first camp to be constructed. The main camp is slated to be constructed by the end of the summer.