Xatśūll First Nation has announced a new $3.8 million project that will see the development of a gas station, convenience store, quick-serve restaurant and a seasonal museum.
The museum will feature Xatśūll and Secwépemc artifacts that will include a tourism hub hosted by local ambassadors at the site of the Soda Creek Emporium, which is the site of a previous business along Highway 97 near Xatśūll First Nation.
“Our members have wanted this to come to fruition for over 20 years,” said Kúkpi7 Sheri Sellars. “I’m ecstatic that the project is finally able to go ahead. It’s taken a lot of hard work and dedication by the Xatśūll Development Corporation, in collaboration with Xatśūll, and persistence from our members to make this a reality.”
Renovations and expansion of the Emporium, which is located about 30 km north of Williams Lake on Highway 97, will commence on May 2, 2022 and the project is expected to take around a year to complete if there are no delays.
The site was originally developed in 1970 and has previously served as a gas station and restaurant.
Most recently, it’s been used by Xatśūll as a training centre for culinary arts, trail builders and other miscellaneous functions.
“The Emporium sits at the heart of nine biking and hiking trails that were added in 2016 and is located just above the Xatśūll Heritage Village. The site will provide ample of reason for people to stop,” added Sellars. “The proposed project, which will incorporate the Emporium, is the right approach as it holds significant social, historical and cultural value; there is no appetite to remove the existing building and replace it.”
Xatśūll said electric charging stations will also be available for those who’ve made the switch from gas or diesel.
Xatśūll is partnering with Petro-Canada for gas.
This project as a whole is expected to bring a minimum of nine full-time jobs and seven part-time jobs.
“One of the big objectives for us has been to bring more employment opportunities to the community, especially closer to home. This project will offer a mix of entry-level jobs and senior positions that’ll suit a variety of experience and skill levels.”
In the short term, a Residential Building Maintenance Worker Trader Sampler Program will offer training to eight Indigenous people in a variety of skills such as drywall, plumbing, electrical, carpentry and more.
The program will run from May 2, 2022 to July 22, 2022 in collaboration between Xatśūll First Nation, the Xatśūll Development Corporation (XDC), Cariboo Chilcotin Aboriginal Training Employment Centre (CCATEC) and Thompson Rivers University (TRU).
“In addition to building long-term employment through the development project, developing these crucial construction skills locally will help us tremendously in future projects and provides more career opportunities for local Indigenous people. We’re really thankful for the support and collaboration with CCATEC and TRU as skill development opportunities like this wouldn’t be possible without them.”
The development project will be managed by Kevin Potter, of Capital Asset Management Solutions, the construction will be managed by Xatśūll member and owner of R&B Construction Gary Sellars and Steven Parker, Xatśūll’s Manager of Economic Development, will oversee the Residential Building Maintenance Worker Trader Sampler Program.
“As you can see there are a lot of moving parts to this project and we’re really happy with all the people who are stepping forward and lending their expertise to it,” said Sellars.
“Our belief in the viability and benefits of this project have helped us make this project a reality. We’re really happy we’ve been able to bring it to this point and are looking forward to opening day. I’d like to thank Xatśūll members, staff, Chief and Council and all the other organizations and people who’ve helped us make this project a reality,” said XDC Chief Executive Officer Howard Campbell.