MONTREAL, Que. –Dust whipped up by rude gusts of wind sandblast the non-stop traffic on Highway 132 just inside the Kahnawake Indian Reserve. A tanned worker chains a fat girder to a front end loader. Two others wield shovels. They are working against the clock to meet a June 24 target to have diesel and gas flowing at a new facility just a few kilometres from the Mercier Bridge, which connects the South Shore region to the Island of Montreal.
Located on the easternmost edge of the Reserve and kitty-corner across from the St.-Constant Industrial Park, the six-acre development includes far more than just a commercial cardlock.
By this fall several businesses in the glass-fronted building will be open for business: a sit-down restaurant; a 24/7 drive-through fast food operation; depanneur (Standard Quebec English for corner store) and a 20-room motel.
This project has been a long struggle for Jean-Claude Duclos, associate partner with Goodleaf Duclos & Associates, who has been pushing it along for over three years. Duclos found that negative experiences with gas stations on other reserves in Canada had made gas companies skittish about setting up a cardlock in Kahnawake; he courted Petro- Canada, Suncor and Esso, without initial success.
Duclos finally signed up Drummondville-based Petro-T, which runs gas stations and truck stops in Quebec.
“Petro-T is the guarantee of quality gas,” Duclos says.
He also spent a lot of extra money tying into the Reserve’s water and sewer lines, which stopped well short of the site.
Duclos takes pains to explain that his project is being developed to the highest North American standards.
“We went for the top people in each discipline with pertinent experience in gas stations, hospitality and depanneurs, from the building architect to the interior designer, four engineering firms contributed to the project. It has to be of unquestionable quality from every angle. We will have the most comfortable and advanced cardlock within 60 kilometres. Every detail has been planned out and scrutinized and we are very proud of this project,” he said.
The project should not have been such a struggle to launch. After all, Highway 132 is clogged with vehicles: over 35,000 cars and 4,400 thirsty trucks rumble past the site every day. Add to that umpteen trucks that will eventually by-pass Montreal on the A-30 ring road. Scheduled for completion in 2012, it will pass within roughly a kilometre of the cardlock.
There will be 60-64 parking spaces reserved for trucks, including long slots for B-Trains.
“All of the areas where the trucks maneuvre will be concrete and heated,” Duclos says.
He was a bit unsure whether a 40-metre Train Routier (long combination vehicle) could make the turn off the road and line up for fueling but says it will likely be worked out.
There will be six cardlock positions and six retail pump positions. Three 65,000-litre fuel tanks will include 130,000 litres of diesel.
Petro-T, which owns cardlocks elsewhere, plus a fuel farm in Montreal, has its own credit system and will also take all major cards.
Access to the facility will be controlled. Duclos explains that the entrance is designed so there will be no cross traffic between cars and trucks. The sole exit is at a traffic light. Three sides of the site are bordered by woods. Security promises to be good: Cameras mounted on the lamp posts in the parking lot will allow a security guard inside the building to monitor the rigs. Each lamp post will also be outfitted with an electric plug-in, allowing 30 trucks to jack in at a time.
Duclos was not ready to go on record with the name of the fast food chain he is negotiating with, but suffice to say that the company in his crosshairs represents a highly-recognizable brand. Next to it will be a depanneur. Visitors who prefer a sit-down meal will be able to choose between tables or booths outfitted with phones so they can do a little business while their meals are being prepared. Staff will wear uniforms and be bilingual.
A private truckers’ area will have separate women’s and men’s lounges, showers and toilets, televisions, phones and Internet -probably Wi-Fi.
On the second floor will be the 20 air-conditioned rooms. A second floor meeting room, with catered food available from the restaurant, will be available for groups.
A back-up generator will provide up to two days’ of back-up electricity to run the pumps, lighting, ground floor and diminished lighting in the rooms.
Although the exact details will only come out once the facility is in operation, the corporate cardlock accounts will have very competitive rates, according to Duclos. Since the cardlock is on a Reservation, retail shopping, hotel and depanneur will offer a tax advantage.
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