Qualicum First Nation-owned gas station gives unique community service

Qualicum First Nation-owned gas station gives unique community service

A new gas station has opened north of Qualicum Beach that has the local fire department pumped.

The Horne Lake Road gas station is providing firefighters with a new water source, which the fire chief says will save valuable time if a fire occurs in that area.

“There’s no downside to this. The fact that this was thought of from the beginning was fantastic, so when I first heard about it a couple of years ago, when the plans first came across my desk, I was really excited about it,” said Mark Taylor, fire chief of the Bow Horn Bay Volunteer Fire Department.

The Qualicum First Nation has named the gas station Qualicum Crossing. It opened less than two months ago and has a low-angle roof that diverts rain into a reservoir.

“It’s 55,000 gallons, 250,000 litres of water that we’re able to use to fill our water tenders to provide us with fire protection. The nearest hydrant we have to this area is about 500 metres to a kilometre down the road,” said Taylor.

The volunteer fire department has already practiced filling up at the two hookups that will allow the fire trucks to quickly fill 1,500 gallons of water from the reservoir in three minutes.

Normally a quieter region, this year, the department has responded to 83 calls, up significantly from the 37 it received in the first quarter of last year.

The chief says this reservoir will result in crucial time savings if responding to fires in the Spider Lake area that it protects or the Horn Lake area it hopes to soon serve.

The fire department says it already provides a response time that meets or exceeds expectations despite this area not having any hydrants close by.

“Even without this, we would still meet the requirements that we need, but every little bit helps. If we can save a couple minutes here or there, it’d be fantastic,” said Taylor

The fire chief says it’s a wise way to use rainwater, as climate change leads to drought conditions and less reliable rainfall.

The Qualicum First Nation is providing this service free to the fire department and the community. The construction has been overseen by its economic development arm called Saa’men Economic Development.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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