Rio Tinto Alcan is bringing in a cruise ship to house hundreds of workers in Kitimat, BC. during its 9 month long smelter shut-down and modernization project. Kitimat’s vacancy rate is less than one per cent and rents for a single bedroom apartment run from $1,200 to $1,400 per month.
The cruise ship, Silja Festival, has 588 cabins and will be brought in this year from California.
The $3.3 B modernization project will increase Rio Tinto’s output at its Kitimat smelter to 420,000 tonnes per year. The project will require up to 2,500 workers this year to undertake the work. The company already has a camp with 1,700 beds.
Kitimat is a community of 8,300 people. Its vacancy rate has plummeted to almost zero in the past 2 years as various economic activities have heated up. The dominant employer is Rio Tinto Alcan. Of the 1,204 Rio employees, average total employee income was $133,941 annually (2012 earnings).
Great solution for a housing crunch. Rio Tinto Alcan’s timing is perhaps fortuitous in that it may be much harder to attract skilled trades after 2014 when the LNG projects get underway.