Richard Skinner believes he and his partners have identified the need, so they are now prepared to provide the service.
Skinner, managing director George Ross Caterers (GRC), said last week that the company he represents has acquired land just south of the Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet on west side of the city, to establish a first-class work camp.
The leased parcel consists of 26 acres but it still requires a green light from the RM of Estevan to ensure proper access (off Highway 39 and Breeze Street) and utility installations can be carried out.
The plan is to build a 148 room camp that will include a dining room, kitchens, gymnasium, recreation room and cable television in the units plus three daily meals (individual packed lunches for mid-day consumption if required).
If all goes according to original plans, the camp could be in operation by September of this year, said Skinner.
The former executive chef, who found a new professional direction in the camp concept said GRC decided to move forward with their plans for Estevan when they learned that SaskPower was not intending to provide a dormitory or work camp on site of their Unit 3 clean coal project. He said when they learned that SaskPower was relying on the private corporate sector to answer the call, they felt they needed to jump in since Estevan's already tightly squeezed housing market is going to be stretched even further with the continuation of major projects associated with the oil industry as well as at Boundary Dam and perhaps Shand Power Station.
“We have the units built and brought in. Contractors visit the site to ensure their concept designs will work and then they get to work,” said Skinner.
With previous experiences providing camp facilities in Fort McMurray and in northern Saskatchewan's Oilsands Quest project plus the Petrobank project in Conklin, Alberta, GRC can bring what they learned there to the Estevan proposal.
“What a city may not want is what we often saw in Fort McMurray where someone would buy a townhouse or large home and then rent out bedrooms and sleeping spaces for eight, 10, 12 guys. So suddenly you have your neighbourhood being disturbed by people coming and going on various shifts, 10 or 12 half ton trucks parked all over the block and, all the other problems that come with it.”
Work camp setups spare the community of that situation with their nightly rate, comfortable rooms and 24-hour per day services.
“We would bring in our staff to provide the food, security, housekeeping and in the event anyone is worried about it being too close to existing businesses or homes ... it isn't. The camp would be set well back from KFC, at least 70 yards plus a tree line and there would be access of an existing street and best of all, something to be considered, especially this year, it's dry,” he said with a smile.
“The units are high end with what we refer to as Jack and Jill restrooms, one washroom serves two living/bedrooms.
“Because of our background, we'd certainly offer the best food available,” said Skinner.
The project though, still hinges on that green light requirement from the RM of Estevan and its councillors.
“We'll give them all the information they should require, including our security arrangements. We'll be leasing to working people and of course all the health and safety issues are addressed. We hope the camp will appeal to oilfield employees, those coming in to work on the clean coal, road crews or any other types of professionals who may find themselves requiring temporary or moderately long-term accommodations,” said Skinner.
It is expected that the design and overall plan for the site would be presented to the RM of Estevan for their input in time for their June meetings.