The owners of Motherlode Wash on Juniper Road in South Quesnel are hoping to construct a new wash building that would accommodate larger vehicles like RVs and semi-trucks. The new building would be two storeys and would match the existing buildings on the property. (Lindsay Chung Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

The owners of Motherlode Wash on Juniper Road in South Quesnel are hoping to construct a new wash building that would accommodate larger vehicles like RVs and semi-trucks. The new building would be two storeys and would match the existing buildings on the property. (Lindsay Chung Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

South Quesnel’s Motherlode Wash applies to add wash building for large vehicles

The new building will include three large-vehicle wash bays and one touchless wash tunnel

The owners of Motherlode Wash in South Quesnel are hoping to add a new building that would provide a space for large vehicles such as semi-trucks and RVs to wash in Quesnel.

The owners, Ron and Wilma Penner, have applied for a development permit to construct a new two-storey 5,940-square-foot vehicle wash building, which is intended for larger vehicles.

The proposed development requires a variance to allow for three principal buildings on their Juniper Road property.

As recommended by City staff, council approved the permit Sept. 15, subject to the Highway 97 and Juniper Road intersection being de-commissioned before the proposed vehicle wash starts operating. The property owners must pave the property within two years of the permit approval, and they must submit civil engineering plans that are deemed acceptable by the City’s chief building official and director of capital works and by the Cariboo Regional District and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Traffic changes are also to be completed before the building is occupied.

The proposed new building would include three large-vehicle wash bays, one standard-sized touchless wash tunnel, and associated office and storage space, according to the staff report submitted to council. The second storey of the building would be used for storage, though the applicant has indicated it may be converted to office space in the future. This conversion would require a separate building permit for change of occupancy and other regulations, such as parking, would have to be reviewed at that time, according to Tanya Turner, the City’s director of development services.

“Review of this project was conducted under the assumption that the Highway 97/Juniper Road intersection is decommissioned as the Ministry of Transportation has confirmed,” Turner wrote in her report to council. “The Ministry of Transportation has advised staff that this will be completed this year.”

READ MORE: Province will deactivate Highway 97 intersection at Juniper Road in South Quesnel later this year

Traffic flow can be an issue at this location, and proposed changes to site accesses include removing one access, making the northernmost and southernmost accesses entrance only and having the central access as exit only.

“The access changes lead to a more comprehensive internal traffic flow, which directs traffic from the north and south sides to the central exit — an improvement from the multiple entrances/exits, which made it difficult to determine which direction traffic should move,” wrote Turner.

Variance notices were mailed to residents, occupants and owners within 30 metres of the subject property in late August, and no submissions have been received by City staff.

In a letter to council included in their application, Ron and Wilma Penner noted they saw the need for a large vehicle wash for vehicles such as semi-trucks and RVs in their original vision.

“This is an ideal time to complete this vision, as we have partnered with our daughter, Rona, and her husband, Chuck Loewen, who have recently moved to Quesnel with their young family,” they wrote.

The Penners noted there is a high volume of semi-trucks on the road, and drivers need a facility like this.

“Unfortunately, truckers have no public wash facilities in Quesnel to service their vehicles,” they wrote. “This means that when these trucks are washed, it is often in an areas that does not properly deal with the road grime on the vehicles. This waste is generally washed into storm drains or into the local environment. The new facility helps alleviate this problem with three oversize self-wash bays to wash their vehicles that both capture this waste so it can be disposed of properly and recycles water.”

The Penners also noted that Quesnel is increasingly becoming a tourist destination, and RV traffic is continuing to increase.

“We are seeing many people spend their tourist dollars on RVs instead of other travels limited by COVID-19,” they wrote. “This brings in desirable tourist revenue to the economy, and these operators need a place to wash their vehicles that protects the environment. Large vehicle wash bays provide a much-needed service, both for tourists and local residents.”

The Penners say the addition of a conveyor tunnel wash is exciting because it improves the quality of wash, increases wash capacity and “delivers an impressive light show.” The new machine will be able to wash up to 70 cars per hour.

The proposed new building would match the existing buildings on site, both in colour and style.

“The stone and woodwork demonstrate craftsmanship and durability, and the overall theme emphasizes Quesnel’s proud history,” wrote the Penners. “Even the idea of a tunnel wash supports the mining theme.”

In their letter, the Penners told council the construction of the new building will cost approximately $750,000, plus the equipment, which will cost another $750,000, and most of this will be spent locally, providing a boost to the local economy. The addition will also require the Penners to double their staffing, providing jobs to the community.

Councillors were supportive of the addition.

“Thank you for your continued investment in the community,” said Coun. Scott Elliott. “The property looks beautiful. I don’t have any problem with the variance of putting up another building in there because I know it’s going to look perfect as well. The only challenge for me in the past has been the traffic, but if that’s getting looked after right now and that one area is getting closed off, I’m good to go.”

Coun. Ron Paull was also happy to see this would be going ahead and to see the traffic issues being dealt with.

“The proponents would know I’ve been bugging them for a long time to get this thing up and going; I own two RVs, and I’m looking forward to having not to dig out the pressure washer, etc.,” he said. “I’m also happy the access off the highway is slated for closure. Every time I come in there, I turn a little bit religious because I have to say a little prayer, so I’m happy to see that is going to be cleaned up.”

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