Wilson Fuels, Husky to anchor Paq’tnkek highway development

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.