A Tk’emlups te Secwepemc councillor says the First Nations community is “very excited” to see construction begin on a band-owned grocery store in the Mount Paul area.
A ground-breaking ceremony for the estimated $13.2 million project was held on Thursday.
Coun. Joshua Gottfriedson, who is responsible for the band’s economic development portfolio, said there is a "vast" need for TteS-owned infrastructure, and the community excited to see progress on this project.
“We're just really excited, and the opportunity to spread our wings and take on some business ventures that are outside of joint ventures and business development agreements is exciting for us, the potential,” Gottfriedson said.
“It’s just a small step that we're going to be taking in bigger directions.”
Plans to construct a Tk’emlups-owned grocery store on the southwest corner of Highway 5 and Shuswap Road were first announced in July of 2021.
The band said it plans to construct a 22,000-square-foot grocery store, securing a supply relationship with a major food supplier while also supporting local producers.
"In light of COVID and the Coquihalla getting shut down, our people are really exploring food sovereignty within our community. The need for us to have our own food sources is pretty prevalent,” Gottfriedson said.
The store will have a full grocery section with fresh produce, a butcher, bakery and a deli, as well as the ability to facilitate online ordering and deliveries.
TteS said it estimates 50 jobs will be created in the first year of being open, and 100 jobs by the fifth year of operation.
Gottfriedson said the goal is to open the grocery store in the summer of 2023.
“To see something that is being built with our logo on it and our brand and our money at stake, it's really exciting. And to get to this point in this stage of our history is really exciting,” he said.
When first announcing the project last summer, Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir said the project launch means a lot to the community after an especially challenging year.
“The grocery store will enable our community to increase our food sovereignty and self-sufficiency,” Casimir said.
“We look forward to celebrating this path forward with all of you until we are all in that grocery store, passing one another with our individual grocery shopping carts.”