Rose Paul, CEO of the Bayside Development Corporation, showcases the community’s flagship development the Bayside Travel Centre to Minister of Indigenous Services, Seamus O’Regan Monday afternoon.

PAQTNKEK: The Government of Canada is investing in Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation’s flagship development Bayside Travel Centre (BTC).

Through the Community Opportunity Readiness Program (CORP), Paqtnkek will receive a total of $3.9 million; $2.9 million was provided for the BTC development project to support future business growth and an additional $1 million went towards the construction of BTC.

Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation Chief PJ Prosper indicated the BTC represents the journey of their community and acts as an offer of hope.

“It goes back to the early ’60s when our lands were severed by the Trans-Canada Highway, there was always a driving memento, even from those early days to have development in our community,” Prosper explained. “We suffered certain access issues, in terms of getting recognition of our ability to access those lands to the south of our community.”

Paqtnkek would not be at the point they are today with the $10.7 million development, which allocated $4 million for the construction of BTC, Prosper said without these funds combined with the funds they were able to leverage through the First Nation Finance Authority.

“Today represents a milestone for the history of our community, it allows our community to be in the position we are today, it allows us to seize opportunity, generate revenues for much needed programs and services within the community,” he said. “Creating our own-source revenues is critical to our future prosperity. Together, we are investing in a future that will support community programs, including health and well-being, and offer long-term job opportunities for our members.”

The 16,000 square foot travel centre, 20 kilometres east of Antigonish, will serve as a convenience for long-haul truckers travelling on the Trans-Canada Highway to and from Cape Breton and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Photos by Drake Lowthers — Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services, (left), Bayside Development Corporation CEO Rose Paul, (middle), and Chief PJ Prosper, of Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, pose for a photo following the announcment Paqtnkek will receive a total of $3.9 million through the Community Opportunity Readiness Program.

Looking at other communities like Millbrook, Membertou, and Glooscap, with access to a major roadway like the Trans-Canada Highway, it will allow people to come into the community to purchase gas and to utilize various business which will allow their revenues to grow.

“You’ve all worked hard the past decade to make this vision a reality. All the planning, dedication, and perseverance has resulted in this brick-and-mortar building,” Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services said. “Community-driven projects like the Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation’s Bayside Travel Centre contribute to growth, create jobs and build economic opportunities. A truly prosperous Canada needs a strong Indigenous-built and Indigenous-led economy. Our government is proud to invest in projects like this and is committed to economic success for First Nations communities.”

The BTC will cater to professional drivers offering a driver’s lounge that will include a separate entrance rest area with wall-mounted flat screen TVs, free WiFi and large showers with a secure change area.

BTC expected to open in October 2019, is located at the newly opened Highway 104 interchange and will include 24-hour retail fuel with complementary ‘call ahead’ service; a 24-hour diesel fuel card-lock station for long-haulers working the northeast corridor; an electric charging station; and a band-owned and operated convenience store.

The development will also bring a much-needed amenity to the area as it earmarks two quick-service restaurants, each with a drive-thru around an atrium that will feature a 50-seat public seating area.