New owners of Raffles Inn, Justin and Kevin Blackman of Five Eight Investments Ltd. stand inside one of the rooms in need of renovations.

New owners of Raffles Inn to revamp bed-bug ridden hotel

Five Eight Investments has plans to transform Prince Rupert hotel into long-term accommodation

Raffles Inn has been sold, and it’s being transformed into long-term housing.

Five Eight Investments Ltd. took possession of the hotel located at the Five Corners in Prince Rupert last week, and they’ve already started renovations.

“Residents are still living here, but we’ve given notice for renovations that will take effect at the end of July,” said Kevin Blackman, director of Five Eight Investments.

Raffles Inn has been sold to Five Eight Investments Ltd. in March 2019. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Since 2005, the hotel has provided a 12-bed homeless shelter that was organized by the Prince Rupert Salvation Army and funded by BC Housing. But due to multiple complaints about bed bugs, many people have refused to stay there.

After a tent city protest outside city hall brought the housing issue to the forefront, a 25-bed emergency shelter opened up on Third Avenue, and a 36-unit supportive housing project was built next to the North Coast Transition Society.

READ MORE: Homeless shelter opens with 25 beds

On April 1, the Crow’s Nest Lodge opened its doors for residents in need of supportive housing.

Many of the Raffles Inn residents had plans to move over there, Kevin said.

“Hopefully the timing with the emergency shelter running and Crow’s Nest opening works for everyone,” said Justin Blackman, also with Five Eight Investments.

Raffles Inn was originally built as a hotel, but somewhere along the line it became a place where people stayed long term and residents started cooking in their rooms. The new owners have been busy tidying up the hotel, re-keying locks to avoid further break-ins, and they intend to do a full fumigation in the coming months.

“Bed bugs have been a continuous issue for years,” Kevin said.

The new owners aren’t exactly sure what the 50-room accommodation will be for but they’re considering turning it into seniors housing, or an extended-care facility since there is an elevator.

READ MORE: BC Housing to move shelter location from Raffles

What they are sure of is that the name, Raffles Inn, named after the famous Raffles in Singapore by the former owners, won’t stick. Kevin plans to find another name for the accommodation.

Since the takeover, the bar and kitchen have closed as contractors are already working to improve the state of these common areas.

Renovations have begun inside the former ‘Raffles Inn’ bar. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

This isn’t the first time Five Eight Investments turned a housing complex around. They’ve also renovated units at Oasis Apartments on 800 Prince Rupert Blvd.

Last week, the new owners made visits to each of the units and met with the tenants. They say the occupants see the need to clean the place up.

“They want the improvements even though they have to leave to facilitate this, they have been amazingly supportive,” Kevin said.

At the Crow’s Nest, they have already received tenants from Raffles Inn and the emergency shelter.

READ MORE: Crow’s Nest Lodge supportive housing officially opens with conference and tour

North Coast Transition Society executive director Christine White, confirmed that the emergency shelter will stay open even with the Crow’s Nest opening this week.

“The people who moved in all seem really happy, happy to have little things, their own bathroom, privacy, they’re able to turn the light off when they go to sleep. Little things they take for granted,” White said. “They’re happy for a chance to get on their feet.”

All the services — meals, skills training, health and wellness programs — came into swing on April 1 as well.

“I’m just really pleased that they have this additional service to offer in Prince Rupert now,” White said.

Raffles Inn will be renamed under the new ownership. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

To report a typo, email: editor@thenorthernview.com.


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