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Food, gas, local art for sale as Piikani Travel Centre officially opens after COVID-19 delays

The Piikani Travel Centre officially opened for business on December 4, 2020. Courtesy: Piikani Travel Centre Facebook

Located off Highway 3 in Brocket, Alta., the Piikani Travel Centre started welcoming shoppers on Friday, following more than a year of construction and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The centre is meant to serve as an additional store for locals, as well as a pit stop for travellers.

Not only does the store provide tax exempt cigarettes & fuel, convenience store necessities and an Indigenous-themed restaurant, but they also buy and sell art.

Read more: Piikani Travel Centre seeks help from Alberta Transportation

“We have a local arts and crafts display case, [and] we have purchased local handmade art from artists in Piikani, and also the surrounding area,” Wayne Fiddler said.

Fiddler, who is the operations manager at the Piikani Travel Centre, says those passing through the area are welcome to stop by, regardless of where they’re from. He adds highway signage can be confusing regarding who is allowed to enter the area.

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“The signs mention that there’s no visitors allowed [on the reserve], but that’s not the case for the travel centre,” Fiddler explained. “We’re open to all coming and going on the highway, as long as everyone’s wearing a mask in the store.”

Read more: Piikani Nation begins work on new travel centre

Employing a couple dozen staff, the store is currently operating seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fiddler says the centre has a maximum capacity of eight people in the store at a time to accommodate COVID-19 protocol.

Due to the pandemic, a grand opening could not be held for the centre, but staff are looking forward to having finishing touches complete before holding such a celebration in a safe manner.

“There’s still a few things the store is going to be going through, like in the spring next year we’re going to be paving our parking lot and the entrance off the highway,” he said. “Right now it’s just gravel.”

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Fiddler adds their most popular items so far have been the bannock doughnuts.

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