Liard First Nation buys three Watson Lake hotels

The Liard First Nation Development Corporation purchased three of Watson Lake’s four hotels on June 1.

The Liard First Nation Development Corporation purchased three of Watson Lake’s four hotels on June 1.

The amount of the sale is being kept confidential but is rumoured to be in the area of $3 million.

The hotels were previously owned by a partnership including Porter Creek MLA Archie Lang.

The purchase made the Liard First Nation the biggest commercial hotel owner  in the Watson Lake area.

The three hotels include the Watson Lake Hotel, the Belvedere Hotel and the Gateway Motor Inn.

The hotels are being operated by the regular staff but the new owners would like to phase in more local First Nations workers.

“We’d like to provide equal opportunities for everyone,” said Alex Morrison, general manager of the development corporation.

“But of course, Liard First Nations will have priority.”

Currently 30 per cent of staff are First Nation people.

The corporation is planning to undertake a substantial upgrade on the Gateway. This would include purchasing larger televisions and obtaining satellite reception for the rooms.

However, they are not planning to run the lounge or restaurant in the historic Watson Lake hotel.

The hotel was built in 1942 during the construction of the Alaska Highway.

“We’d like to engage the public,” said Morrison.

“We need to find the best use for the hotel, for the community and the First Nations.”

The group also recently acquired an apartment complex.

The development corporation is looking to participate in oil and gas, mining and forestry in the region.