WRECK COVE — A 13,000-litre above ground storage tank is bringing fuel back to a community frequented by motorcyclists and snowmobilers.
After shutting down their pumps last spring to undertake a costly site remediation, the owners of Wreck Cove General Store say they heard a public outcry from recreational vehicle users.
“You’re very limited on where you can go in the Highlands if you can’t fill up at Wreck Cove,” said Brent Partland who owns the rest stop with his partner Jenn Rhodes.
“You can stay around Margaree, you can stay around Cheticamp but really that’s it.”
The couple re-opened the once shuttered general store in 2014 after moving to Cape Breton from Ontario.
Following its purchase, the pair discovered a fuel leak or spill on the gas station property that led to the removal of its underground fuel tanks.
“It’s a very expensive ordeal for a little mom and pop operation to undertake out-of-pocket,” Partland said.
“We knew that winter tourism would take a hit without gas in Wreck Cove and it did. For us, wintertime is quite busy.”
With their hands tied financially, the couple was able to return to the fuel business thanks to the loan of a stationary tank from a snowmobiler on the mainland.
Partland said the donor who came to their rescue wishes to remain anonymous.
A recently updated pathway located near the general store’s parking lot also serves as a link to the Cabot Snowmobile Club’s trail system, which is part of the larger Snowmobilers Association of Nova Scotia network of trails.
“Once we brought the gas back a lot of these people are doing a lot more travelling,” Partland said. “We put supreme in and it was the best decision we ever made. It really opened us up to the snowmobile traffic as well as the motorcycle traffic in the summertime.”
Coming off a two-month closure, Partland said the store is now working to fill the sizeable tank for all customers ahead of the busy summer season. Right now, gas is available almost exclusively to snowmobilers, but no one in need of fuel will be turned away.
“I see bigger numbers kind of across the board,” Partland said of the area’s tourism industry.
“On the Cabot Trail in the summertime it seems to be growing exponentially every year. There seems to be more and more people travelling the trail and more and more motorcycles.”
Partland agreed there is also an enthusiasm among business owners along the north shore ahead of the proposed $95-million re-development of Ski Cape Smokey in nearby Ingonish Beach.
“We expect great things in the area,” he said. “I think it will be a boon to all people involved in the tourism trade here.”
As for the remediation work, Partland said things are moving along ahead of schedule. The project has been initially slated for completion some time in 2021.