Two words come to Claire Walker’s mind when she thinks about the fact that she’s general manager of what’s likely one of the largest construction sites in the Hope at the moment: “It’s awesome!”
Donned in hardhat and a yellow, high-visibility vest, Walker, who’s a single mom, tours the site of what will become the Silver Creek Travel Centre.
“Travel Centre is just a fancy word for truck stop,” Walker jokes as she explains the lay of the land.
Located just off of the 168 east-bound exit from Highway 1, the Travel Centre will be a full-service Husky convenience store, with Esso gas, for truckers or anyone who’s looking to fuel up and stretch their legs. There will also be a Ricky’s All Day Grill where locals can grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner whenever they want, Walker adds.
“There will (also) be lots of room for truckers to park for the night if they want, and a state-of-the-art truckers lounge,” said Walker as she pointed out the lot’s boundaries, which stretch all the way from the nearby road to the base of the mountain.
Co-owned by Bill Miller and Dan Mitchell, life-long friends, the idea for the project came in 2015 when the duo purchased the land from Mitchell’s father.
But not knowing what to do with the land, Walker says the pair engaged consultants who finally “determined a truck stop would be best.”
However, the project was stymied for a few years due to permitting, financing, and servicing issues.
“We had to dig under the highway to install sewer and water lines,” Walker explained. “It was a very large project and took a while to complete.”
To continue keeping business matters close at hand, Miller hired Walker, his niece, as the site’s general manager at the project’s conception. But she’s not new to the world of business: Walker co-owns a Chilliwack-based business with her sister.
“I’ve been looking at this site empty for three years, so this is very exciting,” Walker said, while looking at the beginning of the site’s foundation. And although work has already begun, there will be an official groundbreaking on April 26.
“It’s a family business,” Walker said as she continued walking the site. But more than that, she says they’re about community. “We want to focus on community involvement and really make a difference in Hope. We want to provide anything positive that we can.”
Which explains why the Travel Centre has already participated in local charitable programs that have provided backpacks and winter jackets to students across the Fraser-Cascade School District, and was a main sponsor in the recent South Coast Women’s Hockey League Championship event.
And if that wasn’t enough, Walker says she expects she’ll need to hire about 60 people to staff the Travel Centre, which she anticipates will open its doors in January.
“It’s going to be a lot, but it’s (going to be) a great employment opportunity,” Walker continued. “I’m hoping to find all the right people who want to support the community.”