Construction of the highly anticipated gas bar next to the Lower Similkameen Indian Band building is slated to start in the next few weeks.
Tom Danyk, a consultant working with the LSIB to develop the gas bar, said work should start on constructing the 3,000 square-foot building in the next month.
The goal is to have the gas bar and cafe operational by the 2018 tourist season.
“It’s been two years in the planning. We’ve researched and prepared various reports and addressed a number of hurdles and we’re ready to start building,” he said during an open house at the LSIB building last week.
The Petro Canada gas bar will have a three-bay station and at least six pumps offering regular, premium and diesel.
There will be a large store area where people can buy regular gas station items like snacks and beverages and perhaps some souvenirs. There will also be an 800 square-foot cafe area.
The LSIB is currently looking for a bannock type restaurant to take that spot.
“We’re not looking at putting in a Tim Hortons or Subway. We want a First Nations run and operated establishments. We’re in talks but nothing is firm at this point,” he said.
The gas station is expected to offer 13 or more jobs from full-time to part-time positions.
“This is great news for the local community because it’s not only giving them a place to buy their gas and things but also supplying jobs to an area that really needs them. It’s also a chance to start young people building employment skills,” he said.
The entrance to the gas station is not direct off the highway but includes a few hundred metre drive.
Danyk said the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure would not allow a second driveway onto the LSIB property so the existing drive has to be used and a road built.
Landscaping and slope work will need to be undertaken.
Danyk said the LSIB is talking to the ministry about widening the highway to create a left-hand turning lane and/or possibly putting in an amber light and reducing speed in that area.
“We’re still working on these things.”
The gas station will be the only one between Keremeos and Osoyoos.
“There is a lot of traffic that goes by here that could really benefit from this,” he said.