Hope’s newest business, the Silver Creek Travel Centre, officially opened June 24 at 8 a.m. They already had their first official customer gassing up halfway through the opening ceremony.
The truck stop is located at exit 168 off of Highway 1 on the eastbound side, across from Hope’s previously only truck stop The Flying J Travel Centre.
Equipped with the normal trappings of a service station including Husky and Esso gas pumps and a convenience store, the centre was also designed largely with truckers in mind said partner in the business Bill Miller. “To make sure that their experience here is top notch,” he said. “They’re a big income for this place.” An hour into operations and two trucks had already pulled in to the station.
Trucker amenities include accessories such as Garmins and headphones for sale at the convenience store, as well as shower rooms with waterfall showers, body jets and heated floors that partner in the business Dan Mitchell jokingly referred to as the ‘Silver Creek spa.’ There is also a trucker’s lounge facing out to the eight-acre truck parking so drivers can see their rigs while seated there.
Neither Mitchell nor Miller have worked in this business before, but they’ve invested plenty and are even sleeping over at the site for the first little while to make sure everything is running smoothly. Come August 15, a 91-seat Ricky’s All Day Grill franchise is also set to open at the centre.
Upwards of 75 to 80 staff will be employed – all are local hires said Miller – working throughout the 24 hours the truck stop is open. Some positions are managerial and supervisory, Miller added, so there is room to move up.
The owners stressed they plan to get heavily involved in the community through philanthropic initatives, already having sponsored a South Coast Women’s Hockey League Championship event in 2019 and being a part of a backpacks and winter jackets program for Fraser Cascade school children. “We’re going to be a big active participant in all the community events,” Miller said. “Sponsoring things like hockey and ball tournaments.”
Hope Mayor Peter Robb was on hand Wednesday morning, cutting the red ribbon to symbolically open the travel centre. He said he liked the name of the business as it “identifies them as part of our community that sometimes gets forgotten, not intentionally, but it does get forgotten sometimes.”
Robb, running for mayor in 2018, spoke of Silver Creek as a “neglected part of the community” as he pledged to finish projects that would benefit the neighbourhood. These included a sidewalk and lighting along Richmond Hill, a project which has been temporarily put on hold due to limited federal funding during the coronavirus pandemic. “We haven’t given up on Richmond Hill,” he assured. “We’re just going to have to get creative on the funding side of things.”
Robb said the new travel centre will act as an ‘anchor’ to bring more business into the community and is also great timing as B.C.’s restart plan following coronavirus shutdowns enters phase three, with travel allowed within the province. While travel through Hope may be slightly less this summer than previous ones, Robb added he’s confident it will pick up again.
From gravel pit to gleaming truck stop
The piece of land just off of Exit 168 was a wide-open gravel pit for many years, the previous owners having sold gravel to build an adjacent overpass as the Coquihalla Highway build was getting underway ahead of Expo ‘86.
In 2015, Mitchell and Miller purchased the land without knowing what exactly would become of it. Since then studies upon studies, moving earth around and working on financing, as well as putting in a $1-million sewage line under the highway, have been ongoing. And somewhere along the way, the owners decided the best thing to do with the lot would be a truck stop.
“Eight months ago there was a gravel yard, no drainage,” Mitchell said of the site. Since then, it has been full-on construction mode, with some pandemic-era issues to deal with such as supplies stuck in Eastern Canada or across the U.S. border and trades taking their turns in the building to ensure distancing.
“All in all it hasn’t been too bad of an impact, it just adds to the story,” Mitchell said, adding he is both excited and relieved to have the business up and running. “There is really nothing that could stop us, it’s just how long did it drag out for.”
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