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Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation launches $10 million highway showcase

Artist rendition of Bayside Travel Centre.
Artist rendition of Bayside Travel Centre. - Contributed

Bayside Travel Centre boosts regional economy

Paqtnkek Mi'kmaw Nation - Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation is proud of its partnership with Wilsons Fuels and Calgary-based Husky, who will 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 Cardlock operation as a convenience for long-haul truckers on the Trans-Canada Highway to and from Cape Breton and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“This is a historic time for our community,” Chief PJ ‘Paul’ Prosper said. “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.

Artist rendition of business.
Artist rendition of business.

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

“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,” Steve Perry, Maritime account manager, Wilsons Fuels, said. “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,” Matt Omelchuk, manager of Business Development, Husky, added. “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, said the project honours the community’s name and historic role as a meeting place for Mi’kmaq travelers heading to and from Cape Breton.

Artist rendition of Bayside Travel Centre.
Artist rendition of Bayside Travel Centre.

“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,” Paul said.

“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, Lindsay Construction, the Chris Lowe Group and MacFawn and Rogers Architects,” she added.

by Richard Perry

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