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Floating hotel ship arrives in Nanaimo ahead of WoodFibre LNG construction project

The MV Isabelle floating hotel under the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver, B.C. (Bridgemans Services Group) The MV Isabelle floating hotel under the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver, B.C. (Bridgemans Services Group)
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A massive hotel ship that previously accommodated Ukrainian refugees in Estonia has arrived on Vancouver Island as it prepares to house more than 600 workers for a natural gas construction project near Squamish, B.C.

The 154-metre MV Isabelle, a so-called "floatel," or floating hotel, arrived at the Port of Nanaimo on Wednesday evening. The ship contains 652 cabins that will house workers building the Woodfibre LNG project starting this spring.

The Vancouver-based Bridgemans Services Group, which owns the ship and three similar vessels, says the MV Isabelle was outfitted in North Vancouver last month with lockers, games tables and equipment for an 8,000-square-foot onboard fitness facility.

Woodfibre LNG selected the ship in November, saying in a statement that the vessel would provide the most comfortable and sustainable accommodations for the natural gas project's non-local workforce.

"From the start, it's been a priority to make sure the construction of the Woodfibre LNG facility has as little impact on Squamish as possible," Woodfibre LNG president Christine Kennedy said in the statement.

Bridgemans acquired the ship last July and registered it as a Canadian vessel on Jan. 31, according to Transport Canada records. Prior to that, the ship served as a ferry between Latvia and Sweden before it was temporarily repurposed to house people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Port of Nanaimo spokesperson Andrea Thomas says the Canadian-flagged vessel's arrival in Nanaimo as a staging ground before its eventual departure for Squamish underscores the port's "commitment to leveraging Canadian resources and expertise."

"This vessel represents a pivotal asset in providing comfortable and accessible accommodation for the workforce involved in one of the region's most significant projects," Thomas added.

The ship has sewage and water treatment systems, industrial heat pumps, and the ability to run on shore power from the BC Hydro electricity grid, according to Bridgemans.

Once the vessel is docked at the project site, the company says it will have a crew on board at all times to inspect the ship and ensure fire, water and other safety systems meet Canadian regulations.

With files from The Canadian Press

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