Ulkatcho First Nation celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day with a grand opening of its new Canco Gas Station on Highway 20 near Anahim Lake.
More than 200 people attended the event, which kicked off with Coun. Corrine Cahoose saying a prayer, followed by the Ulkatcho drummers.
The gas station opened in January 2023 and on Wednesday, June 21, there was a groundbreaking for a new store at the site.
Construction was anticipated to begin Monday, June 26, and be completed by November 2023.
Ulkatcho Mercantile, a store owned by the nation, has been located on the main reserve for the past 20 years.
Chief Lynda Price said a few years ago the decision was made to relocate the store to the Highway 20 location and add a gas station.
“This is phase one of what over time will become the Ulkatcho Travel Centre. Once the store is completed, the plan is to add a car wash and a motel.”
Price said Ulkatcho Mercantile Ltd. is a member of the newly-formed Ulkatcho Group of Companies (UGoC).
The UGoC through a public-private-community-partnership achieved the project with funding from Indigenous Services Canada, Northern Development Initiative Trust, Canco Petroleum and the UGoC’s West Chilcotin Forest Products Ltd.
Another partner was the Bank of Montreal (BMO) and Spruce Lee Construction from Williams Lake was the main contractor.
Ulkatcho Mercantile Ltd. has also partnered with BC Hydro to put an electric vehicle fast charging station on site.
Lunch included homemade burgers cooked on wood fired barbecues.
Chief Price gave the keynote address after lunch and talked about the significant importance of partnerships.
Guests who also spoke were Al Leonard, vice-president, Capital Infrastructure and Delivery with BC Hydro, Sean Leroy, director Ministry of Energy Mines and Low Carbon Innovation and Jessica Bekker from Calgary representing ATCO, as part of the project advisory team with HATCH for the solar project contemplated by the UGoC.
Before the celebration, the group toured Ulkatcho First Nation’s site for the proposed solar energy project that is anticipated next year.
The solar project has the potential to greatly reduce operating diesel generators in the community and contribute to the much-needed reduction in green house gasses to meet B.C.’s commitment to meet the 2023 climate targets, Price said.