It’s been 20 years without a station, and now Port Renfrew is pumped. That’s right, they now have a fully-fueled full-service gas station, where you can get gas, diesel or propane. It’s conveniently located directly on the Circle Route, right beside the town’s fire station.
And, it’s open.
This is a big deal. For about two long decades Port Renfrew has been without a gas station. Between then and now, one had to gas-up in Sooke or Cowichan, each about an hour away. For residents that meant filling up was a two-hour drive. For tourists, it meant arriving with as much gas in their tank as possible; vehicle exploration was limited to what you had in your tank. It also means that emergency vehicles like fire trucks and paramedics don’t have to make a gas-consuming two-hour drive to fill up their vehicles and emergency-sustaining jerry cans.
The initiative has been in the works for a while.
“This has been a dream for the last 15 years,” explained April Roper, the band manager of the P’a:chi:da (Pacheedaht) First Nation. “It’s a long time coming.” For the last three years, the project has been picking up momentum. It finally materialized with their recent grand opening.
Ultimately, said Roper, this is a part of the P’a:chi:da First Nation’s goal for self-governance. They are hoping to get there in the next eight to 10 years. Because one thing impacts other things when it comes to self-governance, the planning has to be done with great care and planning.
“It’s a game changer,” she said, referring to the gas station. And as a game changer, the grand opening was attended by both the current and past band administrations, an influx of media, and plenty of locals to bear witness and celebrate. Roper estimates about 100 people attended. Already, it has contributed to band employment, providing six jobs for local youth who work as gas pump attendants.
In total, there are about 265 people living in the area. According to Statistics Canada, there are 144 permanent residents living in Port Renfrew in 2016. The Government of Canada has 121 P’a:chi:da Indigenous people living on the reserves, (out of a P’a:chi:da total of 268).
“Let the world know we’re open for business at the P’a:chi:da Pit Stop,” said Roper, thrilled at this new addition to their growing community.
Karl Ablack, president of the local Chamber of Commerce, is also beyond pleased. He’s been watching their town grow into becoming a destination, at times compared to Tofino but with two points of entry. The local Chamber reflects the growth experienced in Port Renfrew, with chamber memberships now up to 80 businesses with 12 directors offering their expertise.
“It’s an essential service we’ve been lacking,” said Ablack, “and now we have it.”
It follows on a long trail of improvements that have benefited Port Renfrew over time, including the completion of the Circle Route and the new-and-improved Sombrio bridge. The push is now on for cell service.
“We welcome everyone to come to Port Renfrew,” Ablack echoes Roper’s sentiment. He urges everyone to explore their beaches and their beautiful sights, and stay awhile. They are situated in the middle of incredible nature including the Botanical Gardens and the West Coast Trail. It’s a great staycation get-away, and now visitors will never be stranded should they run out of gas.
CTV News coverage
This video comes from the provider’s publicly-given embed code. Watch the CTV news clip here.
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