ANTIGONISH: Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation announced today that Wilsons Fuels and Calgary-based Husky will team up to supply an Esso-branded outlet in the community’s new commercial development 20 kilometres east of Antigonish.

Husky will supply diesel fuel to the station’s card-lock operation as a convenience for long-haul truckers traveling on the Trans-Canada Highway to and from Cape Breton and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“This is a historic day for our community,” said Chief PJ (Paul) Prosper. “We are creating a better economic future for ourselves and future generations. We are thrilled to have such credible business partners as we launch the Bayside Travel Centre, phase one of our commercial development.”

The Bayside Travel Centre, now under construction, will include a 24-hour retail fuel with complementary ‘call ahead’ service to customers requiring assistance; 24-hour diesel fuel card-lock station for long-haul trucks working the northeast corridor.

It will also feature an electric charging station, a truckers’ lounge that includes a separate entrance, a rest area with a wall-mounted flat screen TV, free WiFi and large showers with a secure change area, a band-owned and operated convenience store with basic items for the local market plus freshly prepared food and convenience products for people on-the-go, two ‘quick service’ restaurants, each with a drive-through around an atrium that will feature free WiFi, a bank machine and washrooms.

There will be doorless public washrooms so users can avoid touching door handles. A separate family washroom with an infant change table will have a lockable door.

A 50-seat public seating area in the atrium with comfortable chairs and group seating will be made available. This area will also be used for community gatherings and tourist presentations; a seasonal Visitor Information Centre (VIC) and Aboriginal/Nova Scotia Crafts kiosks will be included in the atrium. The VIC will have permanent design features (counter with staff workspace, map and brochure holders) while the crafts kiosks will be wheeled and removable; free WiFi will be provided under the Band’s CRTC license. Fiber optics is currently available at the Paqtnkek Health Centre and will be extended across the Trans-Canada Highway to the project;

Finally, there will be a landscaped outdoor activity area with a separate parking lot. Uses in the outdoor space will include a dog park, seasonal retail pads (ice cream stand, food trucks, etc.) and treed seating areas with benches.

“Market studies show that we are in a prime location to capture significant truck traffic along this key route to Cape Breton,” added Prosper.

“For too long, we were denied access to our own reserve land on the south side of the highway. With access, we can now create own-source revenues to support programs, services and  infrastructure within our community. And we’re committing to a sustainable long-term development that includes green space for the enjoyment of our community members and for visitors from around the world.”

The travel centre will be a non-smoking building that will have three-phase power with a backup emergency generator.  This means Emergency Health Services (EHS) paramedics can use the site for potential medical responses.

Adjacent to the Bayside Travel Centre will be an entertainment centre containing video lottery terminals under the band’s gaming agreement with the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation. This is a relocation and expansion of the existing band-owned business.

The travel centre is expected to open in the summer of 2019. The band will consult with community members about phase two of the development, which will be located just to the east of the travel centre.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this commercial development along the Trans-Canada Highway near Antigonish,” said Steve Perry, Maritime account manager, Wilsons Fuels. “We are very proud of our relationship with the Paqtnkek community and look forward to our bright future together.”

“We look forward to working with Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation on this exciting project,” added Matt Omelchuk, manager of business development, Husky. “Professional drivers traveling between Cape Breton and Newfoundland and Labrador will have the convenience of accessing a card-lock, while also enjoying all the amenities at the Bayside Travel Centre.”

Rose Paul, Paqtnkek’s director of land and economic development, says the project honours the community’s name and historic role as a meeting place for Mi’kmaq travelers heading to and from Cape Breton.

“The word ‘Paqtnkek’ in English means ‘by the bay’ and ‘side’ acknowledges the now-accessible land on the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway,” said Paul.

“I would also like to acknowledge the support of many other partners who have been working diligently with us, including the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, the Nova Scotia Office of Aboriginal Affairs, Indigenous Services Canada, the Municipality of the County of Antigonish, Nova Scotia Power, Robotnik Communications, Nova Construction, Alva Construction, Rodney MacLean Forestry, MacLane & Bernard Construction, Hatch Engineering, the Chris Lowe Group and MacFawn and Rogers Architects.”