Huu-ay-aht moves forward with plans for new businesses

With tourist season fast approaching, the Huu-ay-aht Development Corporation is focused on ensuring the new businesses the Nation purchased in January are ready to welcome guests.

The priority heading into spring is to get the turn-key businesses operational in a way that reflects Huu-ay-aht’s style, culture and values. The first step was hiring Bobby Toor as the new property manager. He will work closely with HDC’s General Manager Charlie Clappis and the existing staff to assess what is required to bring the motel and pub up to standard.

Bobby is moving to Bamfield, along with his wife and two young children. They are currently living in Vancouver, and Bobby comes from a management background, having operated a facility that encompassed sports, fitness, bar and grill.

No major construction is planned for any of the properties, but they will all get a facelift to help make them more welcoming and inviting.

“We want to be fully operational by tourism season,” explained Gary Wilson, CEO of HDC. “But we want to ensure we reflect the pride Huu-ay-aht has in its culture and traditions in all of our businesses.”

One of the first jobs Bobby will take on in his new role will be to set up infrastructure to offer administration, booking and other aspects of hospitality. This will mean exploring what technology is needed to bring the systems up to date and developing an online presence for the businesses.

This year the Group of Businesses will offer a central location for all of its bookings, in addition to online reservations. If anyone wants to stay at the motels or the Pachena Bay Campground, they will be able to visit the float house on the government dock to get all of the information they need. Bobby will be working with Esther Jackway, manager of The Market, to make sure the float house is ready in time.

Bobby and Charlie will also work with existing staff and begin the process of recruiting new people for the season. Many of the positions that will be filled for the busy season are already posted (http://hfndevelopmentlp.org/job-board/).

One of the biggest changes that residents of the area will notice is that HDC will be moving the marine fuel station float assets from Ostrom’s Marine to the Kingfisher dock.

“This is the first point of contact, so it makes sense,” Gary explained. “We already have a few competitors for fuel, so we need to consolidate the Ostrom fuel assets with our Kingfisher operations, so that we are more competitive.”

He said moving the dock will also mean there will be a small convenience store on the water, since it is already part of the fuel station. Considering HDC recently acquired the assets, Gary still does not know exactly what the small store will sell, but he believes it will likely stock items for fishers and boaters.

The Kingfisher, the Bamfield Trails Lodge (Bamfield Motel) and the pub were all determined to be structurally sound and the electrical is up to code. This means the repairs will be aesthetic ones, such as a fresh coat of paint, finishing’s, plus carvings and art from Huu-ay-hat citizens, and in the future we may incorporate a traditional house post to highlight the culture.

Gary said this is an exciting time for Huu-ay-aht First Nations. Although many of the jobs are seasonal, he pointed out that the new businesses will create many opportunities for Citizens in terms of professional development in hospitality industry.

“This is an opportunity for recruiting, training and developing Huu-ay-aht People to help us fully resource our own businesses for peak season.”

He added that these seasonal jobs will get Citizens working, and then HDC can try to find other openings for them during the slower months. Gary also hopes the new businesses will offer Citizens with experience in hospitality a reason to come home.

“We want to be in full swing by the end of March, but first comes the planning stages,” Gary said. “In the next month, HDC will be doing business and strategic planning sessions that will help create a vision for the whole organization.”

HDC also has a contest running to help them name the motel and pub. For more details, check out this link: logo name contest poster

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