Photo of the Lakeland Hotel around the time it first opened in 1953.

Photo of the Lakeland Hotel around the time it first opened in 1953.

Lakeland Hotel to reopen with First Nations theme

Skin Tyee First Nation has no plans to open it as a casino

Burns Lake’s downtown core will soon become more appealing since Skin Tyee First Nation (STFN) has purchased the Lakeland Hotel and plans “major renovations and upgrades.”

“The hotel was in rough shape and should have been renovated years ago,” said STFN Chief Rene Skin.

The building was purchased by Skin Tyee First Nation Resorts Inc., a company owned by STFN. The hotel has already been closed while crews prepare the building for its renovations.

The Lakeland Hotel, first built in 1953, was once considered people’s favourite breakfast place. The STFN took this into consideration when they planned a new restaurant with a breakfast theme. The new hotel will also have a sports pub and grill with a stage for performances of local musicians.

Expected to reopen in the spring of 2016, the hotel will have a First Nations theme, including a gift shop for local First Nations artists to display and sell art.

The hotel will have its mechanical and electrical systems replaced and brought up to code. In addition, the downstairs lounge will be renovated and reopened. Although there have been rumours of a casino being built in the hotel basement, Chief Skin told Lakes District News that those rumours are false.

“We do not intend to make a casino,” said Chief Skin. “We intend to improve the hotel and make the heart of downtown Burns Lake a destination place.”

The new owners also plan to renovate the hotel rooms to bring them up to standard.

“We will have a high standard of cleanliness as well as a great staff trained in hospitality.”

Furthermore, Chief Skin said STFN has dreams of a possible fitness centre and swimming pool in the hotel.

“There is lots of potential,” he said. “We believe the hotel will be brought to a standard that people will approve for repeat business; possibly a good place for people to conduct business, relax, or watch their favourite sports.”

The STFN expects the new hotel will provide employment to their members and the surrounding First Nations, as well as Burns Lake residents. In fact, the STFN has already hired people from six different First Nations around the community to help prepare the building for contractors.

Greg Brown, President of the Burns Lake and District Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber was pleased to hear of the purchase of the Lakeland Hotel by the STFN.

“Chief Rene Skin and his team have been very proactive for their members and we look forward to the renovation and reopening of this facility,” said Brown. “Our board of directors and staff are always willing to help our members grow their business and to welcome new investors to the business community.”

According to Sheryl Worthing, Chief Administrative Officer for the Village of Burns Lake, the village has been assisting STFN on this renovation project. The village’s economic development officer has given the STFN information on the business façade grant program; the village’s building inspector is assisting with building permit information; and the village’s director of protective services is assisting with fire code regulation and safety information.

“With the improvements in the downtown core over the past three years, the renovations and upgrades to the Lakeland Hotel will help enhance the work that has already been done,” said Worthing. “We are very excited about this project and are looking forward to the finished product.”