Victoria’s renowned 112-year-old Empress Hotel will be out of commission this winter.
Fairmont Hotels and Resorts announced late Monday that the hotel will close completely for 87 days, starting Jan. 3, to complete a necessary $3-million renovation to its heating system.
A release from Fairmont Hotels and Resorts says there’ll be “periods of time where the building will be without heat … or hot water,” as the project involves replacing the building’s steam heating system with a high-efficiency hot water heating system, along with replacing two 1960’s-era steam boilers and hot water tanks.
The hotel’s automation system, which controls things like heating, lighting and security features, will also be upgraded. The building is expected to reopen on April 1.
The hotel’s general manager Indu Brar said in a press release that “being able to leverage the slower season and reduced tourism due to COVID-19 travel restrictions gives us the opportunity to complete these necessary upgrades.”
Union ‘disappointed,’ as workers laid off yet again
Public Relations director Tracey Drake said employees will be laid off during the three-month closure, and the hotel is extending its recall time period from 12 months to 24 months, so 90 per cent of employees can return.
“[These] are always our quietest months of the year, so many of our colleagues do not work during these months anyways,” added Drake.
She couldn’t say how many employees will be out of work, as many remain laid off from when the hotel closed in March due to COVID-19.
Stu Shields, a national representative of Unifor, the union representing the hotel workers, said he’s upset that around 75 employees who’d returned to work when the hotel reopened will be out of work yet again. The workers are voting on whether to approve the one-year recall extension that would allow them to reclaim their jobs until March 2022. Results will be known next week.