In recent weeks Bert Hick and his team at Rising Tide Consultants donated their time to acquire the Food Primary licensing of a new and unique boutique hotel and art gallery located on West Pender Street at the crossroads of Gastown and Chinatown in Vancouver’s downtown East Side.

The Skwachays (pronounced SK-Watch-Eyes) Lodge and Urban Aboriginal Art Gallery was opened by the Vancouver Native Housing Society (VNHS) in 2012 and is currently completing its elaborate transformation. The century-old facade was salvaged by a team of six leading design firms and local Aboriginal artists, and as a result, rising from the street front, is Canada’s first and only Aboriginal arts hotel.

The First Nations hotel project was successfully issued its Food Primary license this week from the Province of B.C. and Rising Tide Consultants was instrumental, originally contacted by Jon Zwickel, President of InnVentures and the Skwahays project manager. “The Rising Tide team provides expert, practical advice on the intricacies of licensing in BC. I always turn to them for managing the process.” Zwickel stated, giving Rising Tide a 5-star rating in licensing consulting services.

Faced with a limited budget, Rising Tide stepped up to the plate, so to speak, and offered consulting services as a community donation to help the Skwachays Lodge and Art Gallery obtain their Food Primary license. Relying on donations of time and supplies as well as a campaign that raised $180,000 to make up for a possible shortfall, the project addresses welfare and homelessness but the hotel’s location which includes 18 one-of-a-kind suites, needed to attract a broader clientele to make money. The art gallery was profitable early in its operation and now the boutique hotel offers rooms for $225 a night and is expected to attract tourists who come to B.C. interested in Aboriginal culture and tours. Lodge guests can enjoy spiritual cleansing ceremonies in what is called a Smudge Room, a sweat lodge on the 6th floor, and immerse themselves in the artistry of First Nations people throughout the hotel premises.

“We are thrilled and very excited to be part of this successful hotel project that has brought together so many people committed to its success,” explains Rising Tide Consulting’s president Bert Hick. “This helps the Vancouver Native Housing Society and opens up new accommodation with an artists gallery featuring First Nations and will help to revitalize the East Side.” Hick goes on to say, “It’s community building with industry colleagues and working to give the whole project more opportunity, and by donating time to apply and process their Food Primary license, well, this was something we wanted to do to support everyone involved in the project.”

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