PAQ’TNKEK: Paq’tnkek First Nation announced last Thursday that Wilsons Fuels and Calgary-based Husky will team up to supply an Esso -branded outlet in the community’s new $8 million showcase development, the Bayside Travel Centre , 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, we are creating a better economic future for ourselves and future generations,” said Chief PJ (Paul) Prosper. “We are thrilled to have such credible business partners as we launch the Bayside Travel Centre , [in] Phase 1 of our commercial development.”
Matt Omelchuk, manager of business development with Husky , said they are looking forward to work with the Paq’tnkek Mi’kmaq Nation on this exciting project.
“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 .”
Similar to an Irving Big Stop , the Bayside Travel Centre will cater to professional drivers offering a drivers’ 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.
“Market studies show that we are in a prime location to capture significant truck traffic along this key route to Cape Breton,” Prosper said.
The travel centre, which is now under construction will include; 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; an electric charging station; 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.
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 with comfortable chairs and group seating, free WiFi, a bank machine and public washrooms.
“For too long, we were denied access to our own reserve land on the south side of the highway,” Prosper explained. “With access, we can now create own-source revenues to support programs, services and infrastructure within our community.”
Adjacent to the Bayside Travel Centre will be a relocated and expanded entertainment centre containing video lottery terminals under the band’s gaming agreement with the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation.
The travel centre will be a non-smoking building that will have three-phase power with a backup emergency generator, which means Emergency Health Services (EHS) could use the site for potential medical responses.
Paq’tnkek’s director of land and economic development, Rose Paul said the project honours the community’s name and historic role as a meeting place for Mi’kmaw travelers heading to and from Cape Breton.
“The word ‘Paq’tnkek’ in English means ‘by the bay’ and ‘side’ acknowledges the now-accessible land on the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway,” she said.
As an independent gasoline retailer and supplier, Wilsons Gas Stops operates its own service stations and distributes fuel to 200 dealers in Atlantic Canada. Wilsons operates 77 company service stations, 11 Wilsons Gas Stops and 66 Esso stations, and the family-run business has been recognized as one of Canada’s ‘50 Best Managed Companies’.
Husky operates a network of retail outlets from British Columbia to New Brunswick, including more than 400 Husky -branded sites and more than 150 Esso -branded card-lock sites; but this would be the first location for Husky in Nova Scotia.
The Bayside Travel Centre is expected to open in the summer of 2019, and the band will consult with community members about Phase 2 of the development, which will be located just to the east of the travel centre.