Simon Yu was handed a shovel for his first ceremonial groundbreaking duty since he became Prince George mayor.

He was on hand Wednesday to launch Phase 1 of Troika Management’s Cariboo Crossing development alt the south end of Boundary Road where it meets Highway 97.

The project will create a Canaco fueling station, drive-through restaurants and retail stores, with more commercial/retail building space planned for future phases.

Yu says Cariboo Crossing is one of number of industrial/commercial/warehouse developments along the Boundary Road corridor that will significantly change the landscape of the southeast section of the city.

“This is the (start of) the airport logistics park and we’ve been dreaming of this for years,” said Yu. “This is an important spot. We have the airport, we have the junction of the two highways nearby and railways services, highway traffic – this is where we can build as the inland port we’ve always envisioned. First things first, we need a place to gas up, so this is the first step.”

Marmot Builders, a local company, will begin construction of Cariboo Crossing’s $6 million first phase immediately, with completion expected by the end of the year.

Cariboo Crossing is the first Prince George project for Kelowna-based Troika Management Corp.

Rich Threlfall, Troika’s vice-president of development and innovation, said Prince George has a ripe business climate and has shown it wants to see growth. With land prices slightly less than that of the Okanagan, that also factored into the company’s decision to expand into northern B.C.

“The current plans (for Phase 2 and 3) show items like a larger store, a Peavy Mart (agricultural supply) or Princess Auto type of store and for a future phase we have a hotel contemplated,” said Threlfall. “Hopefully the next phase of this project we’ll be able to bring in a coffee shop as well as office space or some other commercial or retail space.”

Nearly 10 years after Boundary Road opened, the road is starting to live up to its promise as the transportation spine of a logistics park. Several warehouses and service centres are visible within site of the Cariboo Crossing development at the south end of Boundary.

“Inland Kenworth was lonely for a while but now they’re going to have neighbours and this development will really tie it together,” said Marmot Builders founding partner Jonathan Buchanan. “There’s Gregg Distributors and Varsteel is building a building down the road, you’ve got Arctic Machinery just past Fraserway (RV), Great West Equipment and Volvo over there.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for small businesses. You don’t have to buy the land, you can move in and lease the space.”

Boundary Road construction took more than three years and $18.7 million to complete. Built to stimulate growth of logistics park of interconnected warehouses, shops and office space southwest of the airport, the 6.8-kilometre road that links Highway 16 East with Highway 97 South opened Nov. 15, 2013.

The road and its connection to potential warehouse space was seen as a key future component in the Prince George Airport expansion that created Canada’s third-longest commercial runway in 2007.

YXS has so far been unsuccessful in its attempts to use the runway and the city’s location along established trade routes to make Prince George a cargo hub for air traffic and create a distribution/storage centre for goods coming from Asia and the United States.

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