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Copyright 2024 - Colter Developments

:: River Rock Casino Resort

Working seven days a week for two years, Colter Developments overcame various challenges, project scope changes and a fast track schedule to successfully deliver Western Canada's Largest multi-purpose entertainment facility.

It's not difficult to understand why the River Rock Casino development was at one time the largest construction project in B.C. At 470,000 square feet, the multi-purpose entertainment complex includes a 70,000 square foot casino, five star hotel, 400,000 square foot parkade, pool, spa and 1,000 seat state-ofthe-art theatre.

The construction ingenuity and long hours required to build the complex made the River Rock Casino the most honoured project at this year's Vancouver Regional Construction Association Awards of Excellence. It was recognized with four awards across a number of categories.

Built on the former site of the Bridgepoint Market in Richmond, River Rock is the largest casino in the province and is the only casino and resort combination among Great Canadian Gaming's properties.

Construction of the $210 million River Rock Casino garnered Colter Developments the top gold award for general contractor — project over $40 million.

Colter delivered the complex on time and on budget. The three-phase project took just over 24 months, with Phase 3 (theatre) completed in September 2005.

"It was a labour of love," recalls Colter vice-president Kelly Leroux. "A lot of pressure, unique circumstances and very dedicated subtrades."

The owners originally had envisioned a $30 million renovation project but the scope of the project quickly changed to encompass a destination resort.

The massive undertaking of constructing a full range of building types had Colter managing a "small army of labourers" that peaked with a crew of 450 on site. The project is Colter's largest to date by far, says Leroux.

Demolition started in March 2003 with the old mall stripped down to the structural steel to form a portion of the casino. The new casino (Phase 1) opened in June 2004.

"I think our biggest achievement was the speed with which we put up the parkade. That was a $22 million project on its own," says Leroux, noting the four-level parkade was completed in under three months.

The 18-acre site did present some unexpected surprises.  

"The site had its own idiosyncrasies. The east side was contaminated and we had to truck the soil to an environmental dump site. We were also pulling out huge timbers because it used to be an old saw mill there 100 years ago," says Leroux, adding the tanking in the theatre basement was also a big issue because of the proximity to the Fraser River.

Driving pilings 160-175 feet deep into the riverside location to meet seismic requirements proved difficult when glacial till was encountered.

"That really hurt our schedule when we were doing the pile driving. We had a lot of trouble with the glacial till," says Leroux.

Location: 8811 River Road, Richmond, B.C.
Value: $210 million
Owner: Great Canadian Casinos
Managers: Colter Developments
Architect: Randy Knill Architect
Completed: September 2005  

The biggest challenge, however, was the schedule. The fast-track nature of the project had Colter working seven days a week to overcome changing design concepts and roadblocks in labour and material supply.

A shortage of drywallers required Colter to fly in people from Toronto and Calgary while material supply and delivery was impacted by two strikes: a Lower Mainland dump truck strike and a six-week truckers' strike at the Port of Vancouver.

The port strike left the Italian slate tiles for the hotel lobby floors inaccessible and the trucker strike made it difficult to obtain material for fill, cites Leroux.

In addition to paying overtime, Colter, along with Great Canadian, offered an incentive program to reward the crew.

"Anybody who worked a certain number of overtime hours got a week's paid vacation to Vegas. If they reached another plateau, it was Disneyland and then the highest was an all-inclusive to Mexico," explains Leroux.  

Now that he has time to reflect back on the work Colter did, Leroux says he is most proud of the lobby and the theater.

"The theater itself is extraordinary technically speaking. The gala seating system is probably the biggest non-standard construction element in there," he says, explaining the seating can be transformed in minutes for different uses. "The hotel lobby is also really nice. It was a ballet of seven or eight 60-foot boom lifts working in there to get everything in."

Leroux adds the VRCA award was an especially pleasant surprise since Colter is a small family-owned company. He credits the success of the project to a great team effort from everybody, singling out in particular senior project manager Chuck Ramsay and superintendent Randy Vandenberg.

Colter Developments is a very proud recipient of the 2006 VRCA Gold Award for General Contractor over $40 Million for the River Rock Casino Resort. Colter Developments was the construction manager for this project. We extend a thank you to all participants.

Based out of Richmond BC, Colter Developments is family owned construction management company building facilities both large and small in Canada since 1996.

Labour of Love by Cheryl Mah (2006)

Building Awards

Colter Developments has been the recipient of many Building Awards - a statement of the company's commitment to excellence in every project.

Eye For Detail

Colter Developments is known for its vision and ability to accomplish mega-projects. The final product is proof of our staff capabilities and eye for details.

Quality Personnel

Every project, every task, every Colter Developments achievement can be traced back to the quality of people we employ. To them we say Thank You!