Excavation of the Conference Centre Hotel in Nanaimo is officially underway.

The long-awaited Conference Centre Hotel in downtown Nanaimo began the excavation phase of its construction Thursday morning.

Last month, there was a ground breaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction, but the site remained mostly dormant until now.

This has been the third and final attempt to build a hotel on this site since the Vancouver Island Conference Centre opened in 2008.

The last two attempts failed because they could not meet city deadlines that were put in place.

Once built, the new hotel is expected to boost the local economy by bringing much needed hotel room space to the harbour city as well as attracting larger conferences to the neighbouring conference centre.

“Instead of hosting maybe 200 or 300 delegates to conferences, we can now look at 800 to 1000-people conventions that the conference centre was built to accommodate,” said Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog.

“The new hotel will become a nine-storey, 172-room Courtyard By Marriott Hotel and is developed by Utah-based PEG Companies," said Krog.

Construction of the hotel is expected to cost more than $21-million to build.

The Courtyard By Marriot is expected to be open for business by the summer of 2021.