Kawacatoose and Raymore in Talks of a New Gas Sation

The lot where the Kawacatoose restaurant and gas station once stood and where they plan to build again. Off of Highway 6 in Raymore, Sask.  Photo by Mick Favel.

A third gas station is being planned for the town of Raymore years after the owners closed their business at the same location. Kawacatoose First Nation is partnering with Four Horse Development to construct a gas station which will also include another business. Kawacatoose, Raymore and Four Horse Development are in the planning stage.

“We are hoping to draw a Tim Hortons franchise … because Tim Hortons and gas go together in small town Saskatchewan,” said Lee-Anne Kehler, a Kawacatoose councillor.

The new gas station will be built on land owned by Kawacatoose right off Highway 6, a north-south road that connects Regina and Melfort. It is the same piece of land where a Shell gas station and restaurant- both owned by the reserve- once stood.

There are a number of reasons why the Kawacatoose Shell may have closed, said Kehler. Customer traffic quickly fell after the Greyhound bus stop moved from the Shell to the Esso across the highway. The Shell also went through a number of managers before its eventual close. Proper upkeep of the building stopped, leaving it in shambles at its end.

After the Shell closed, the building sat and slowly crumbled. It was an eyesore and a painful reminder for the locals said Kehler. The building was torn down in June. Kawacatoose and Raymore are happy the old building is now gone.

Kehler worked at the Shell restaurant during its heyday. She was a university student at the time and said the place was always full of people. Movie rentals, an arcade and VLT section brought a wide range of customers to the location.

Raymore Mayor Malcolm Koncz was also a student-employee at the Shell. Koncz saw the gas station at its high point and would like to see it there again.

“We have been working together with a consultant,” says Koncz. “[Kawacatoose] has a future development coming and that is a great, positive thing for Raymore.”

The Kawacatoose project will join Esso and Co-op as a third place to get gas in Raymore. Koncz sees no problem having another gas station in town and says that competition will make all parties better.

There are similar First Nation gas stations that have achieved success in Saskatchewan, such as the Saulteaux Junction Gas & Convenience on the outskirts of Regina, which recently opened a new building to accommodate its increasing customer traffic.

Raymore is also focusing on other attractions like a swimming pool and mini-golf.

“Getting people to stop in your community is what keeps your community going,” said Koncz.

When the new gas station is complete Kehler said a new administrative system will be in place involving a board of people committed to the success of the project.

If Kawacatoose is granted a Tim Hortons franchise there is a high standard that comes with it. Tim Hortons is Canada’s largest restaurant chain known for its quick service. Kehler says they are determined to meet the standards of Tim Hortons.

According to timhortons.com, “[A group] must have an estimated $500,000 in net worth and $100,000 in unencumbered funds in order to qualify … We must insure that every Franchisee possesses the necessary skills, commitment level, dedication, work ethic, character and strong people skills.”

“I believe in economic development and wanting to leave something for our children,” said Kehler. “I would be really proud to say Kawacatoose owns a Tim Hortons.”

An environmental assessment for the land is scheduled for November.

The nearest Tim Horton’s location is in Regina, over 100 kilometers to the south.

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