Skip to content

Qualicum First Nation officially opens new gas station on Horne Lake Road

Chief Michael Recalma calls project ‘a dream come true’
A PetroCanada gas station near the Horne Lake Road intersection on Highway 19 was officially opened on Saturday, April 19. (Michael Briones photo)

The Qualicum First Nation has officially opened its Petro Canada Kwalikum Crossing station located near the Horne Lake intersection along Highway 19.

A grand opening was held on Friday afternoon, April 19, attended by members of Qualicum First Nation council led by chief Michael Recalma, as well as Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, Parksville Qualicum MLA Adam Walker and elected municipal and Regional District of Nanaimo officials.

Recalma said when they first looked at the property almost 10 years ago, they saw its potential for a gas station and decided to purchase the land.

“That’s what the community wanted,” said Recalma. “We had a meeting many, many years ago of ‘what do we want, what’s our dream?’ And it was a gas station. There were other choices – maybe a casino, maybe this, maybe that. But the common theme was a gas station. And here we are. It’s great. I tell people it’s a dream come true.”

The gas station (at 700 Horne Lake Rd.) has a Coast Salish design, featuring a nicely-stained wood visible outside and inside.

The station is now operating and ready to serve motorists travelling the Island. There are fuelling stations, electric vehicle charging units, propane service and a convenient store. An A&W Restaurant will also soon be added to the business, with a drive-through.

Debra Nixon, chair of the board of the Saa’Men Economic Development LP that saw the project through, is happy the project is now complete. It wasn’t easy, she said, as they encountered major challenges along the way including the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: $50,000 approved for Horne Lake community fire protection project

“COVID threw our construction costs through the roof and (created) supply issues,” said Nixon. “I wouldn’t recommend somebody to build in a worldwide pandemic. It was a challenge but we got through and here we are.”

Right next the building is a pond with a fountain in the middle that serves not only as an attraction but also as a key water supply for the Bow Horn Volunteer Fire Department (BHVFD).

“Not only is this a great addition to the area but this building is fantastic,” said BHVFD fire chief Mark Taylor. “The way they designed it, every bit of rain water that drops on the roof, falls on the pond over here. And this pond is specifically for us to fight fires.”

The pond has 55,000 gallons of water the BHVFD will be able to access through a direct connection.

“This is mostly a rural area, with no fire hydrants,” said Taylor. “Our last hydrant is partway down Horne Lake Road. We serve Spider Lake and no fire hydrants. So all of our water for a fire is brought in by trucks by water tenders. So we can come here a fill our water tender 36 times from that pond. That’s going to take care pretty of much any fire that we have. It’s a fantastic design and we’re happy to have it here.”

It was challenging to build pond, said Nixon but they’re quite happy with the outcome.

Nixon said they aim to get some signs along the road to let motorists know the gas station is there.

“We just need to have a little bit more visibility,” said Nixon. “I think that’s our challenge now, now that we’re open. We were required to put the sign there that was requested by the Regional District of Nanaimo but the trouble is with the trees, you can’t see us, unless you know we’re here. The locals know we’re here but we miss a lot of the other traffic. So, we’re going to work with the regional district and see what they’re going to allow us to do as a temporary thing.”

Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
Read more