The Rusty Anchor Inn in uptown Port Alberni

Uchucklesaht First Nation buys old Somass Hotel in Alberni

The Uchucklesaht plan to spend $3 million converting the troubled Somass Hotel into an administrative building.

The Uchucklesaht First Nation has purchased the Rusty Anchor Inn, formerly known as the Somass Hotel, in uptown Port Alberni.

The sale finalized on July 31, said Scott Coulson, the Uchucklesaht First Nation’s chief administration officer and director of finance.

“We’re going to be renovating the entire building,” he said.

The Uchucklesaht plan to transform the building into their new administrative home and cultural centre; they are presently occupying a building on the Hupacasath Reserve on River Road.

“Now that we’re treaty we don’t have to be on the reserve anymore,” Coulson said. The Uchucklesaht are one of five nations of the Maa-nulth Treaty.

Chris Ashby of Appello Properties Inc. previously owned the Somass, and renamed it the Rusty Anchor Inn after purchasing it in 2006-07. In 2012 he renamed it Somass Station Inn and tried to make the restaurant and lounge more upscale. However, a fire in one of the hotel rooms upstairs forced Ashby to close parts of the establishment and fix the fire damage

Ashby could not be reached for comment on the sale.

“This is a very exciting time for the Uchucklesaht Tribe government as we move forward with economic development,” Chief Charlie Cootes said in a statement. “After construction is complete this building will be home for our government and administration, will create a cultural home for our citizens and assist in creating employment and training opportunities for all of our people.”

The current hotel is home to three bars and 42 apartments, many of them “uninhabitable,” Coulson said. The Uchucklesaht plans to reconfigure the rooms into 23 good-sized apartments.

When the estimated $3 million project is complete, the building will also have government facilities, administration offices, boardrooms (some of which will be available for public rental) and retail space. The cultural centre will including a carving room and gallery at the back of the building, where a strip bar was located, Coulson said.

The tribe will consider re-opening the restaurant, previously called Timbers, Coulson said. The new building might also provide a training facility for First Nation people, he added.

The Somass Hotel has a long history in the Alberni Valley, dating back more than 100 years. It opened at the corner of Argyle Street and Kingsway Avenue in 1908, at a time when the waterfront was developing along the Alberni Inlet. The original wooden Somass burned down in 1947.

Coulson said the Somass is in a great location for people of the Uchucklesaht that come in by boat from the village and land at Harbour Quay.

“So we’re really close to where the people are coming in,” he said.

Coulson said the tribe still has five months of engineering work ahead of them before they can even think of putting out tenders for the renovation work. He estimates the renovations won’t be complete for a year.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Somass River sockeye fishery estimates cut in half

Local fisheries closed; poor ocean survival a prime suspect

‘Lightning’ hits Sproat Lake for annual regatta

Alberni Valley Regatta Association hosted sixth annual races

Port Alberni track and field athletes excel at BC championships

Pair brings home titles in javelin, hammer throw

City of Port Alberni to discuss train station in committee of the whole meeting

City has received two “high quality” expressions of interest in redeveloping the train station

New gazebo for Alberni’s Heritage Place

SONJA DRINKWATER SPECIAL TO THE NEWS Residents of Heritage Place Assisted Living… Continue reading

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Mercury tops out on top of the world: Alert in Nunavut warmer than Victoria

It’s the latest anomaly in what’s been a long, hot summer across the Arctic

Most Read