Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Canad Inns Hotel - Health Sciences Centre

Canad Inns Hotel from William Avenue
It was hard to believe that it would ever happen and after 8 years, I think Canad Inns owners might have wondered what they got themselves into.

It is the 12th hotel in the chain and the only one in Canada that is part of a health campus. At 16 floors and 191 rooms, it cost $40 million and will employ 300 staff trained in how to provide care to hospital patrons. This was not a HSC project. This was privately driven.

This hotel is not the solution for everyone. It is just one amenity among others at the hospital. The two restaurants and Starbucks are likely to be well used even by those who don't stay at the hotel.

Canad Inns Tucked in beside emergency and general hospital
I have some seen some online comments about the hotel criticizing private enterprise. Some suggested the hotel should have been paid for by the province and that room rates should be really low. I have heard similar comments about parking and other areas of hospital features.

I have a lot of sympathy for the rising cost for those who have to go back and forth to the hospital for treatment. Even for those in the city, the cost of parking can be brutal. Still, the cost to build the parkades run upwards of $50 million.

Who should pay for parking or hotels when needed? It is a tough question. If parking was free, chances the lots would be full all the time with staff and those coming to and from the hospital.

One of the reason parking rates and hours were changed downtown is because some people rolled up to a meter at 5:30 and that is where they remained for several hours.

There is no doubt that free parking is never really free. Even in a place like Polo Park, the price of parking is added to your bill of sale.

At any rate, the harsh criticism against Canad Inns for the price of their hotel likely ignores the fact the rack rate of a room is always negotiable. Long terms stays, members of automobile associations and government and university rates probably apply.

There have been several hotels that have gone up in the city. The prices generally create some sticker shock for those thinking Grand Forks or Fargo prices of about $60 or $70. The truth is that despite the amount of new hotels up, we don't compete at the level they do in the U.S.

It is probably best not to read comments on the news sites. It might lead you to believe this is the worst thing that has ever happened to the city. It isn't. The Canad Inns at HSC will provide other options for the hospital in terms of food and overnight stays for people. Even the university is likely to benefit as they will probably put an overnight guest lecturer at the hotel, host a function in the meetings rooms or have families stay there as their kids get situated at the medical school.

The costs of people having to park or stay overnight in the city continues to be a factor. Ronald McDonald House showed one way to help. We need others. But let's not pile on a private investment that has 300 workers employed and is like nothing seen in this city or country before. It will fill a need and may encourage others to follow suit.

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