There is now a very noticeable cleared and levelled hillside next to the old Merritt rest area at the intersection of the Okanagan Connector and Coquihalla Highway in Merritt.

But it could be next spring before construction of a gas station and other food and commercial outlets begins for what is dubbed Gateway 286. It will take six to nine months to build once construction starts.

“If things align, we can start this fall,” Rich Threlfall, president of Troika Management Corp., told “That’s what we’re driving for but, realistically, it will probably start next spring.

"We haven’t even submitted for development permits yet so we have to go through that process as well. Trying to be realistic about the time frame and staffing levels of all municipalities right now, it will probably take some time.”


Troika is working with Spayum Holdings – a corporation owned by five Nicola First Nations – and PR Petroleum to redevelop the seven-acre site that still has the old tourist information centre in place. It closed in 2018.

The building is not likely to remain but the design work is ongoing so it may be relocated or parts of it might be used in the new project, Threlfall said.

That project includes a Canco gas station, 30,000 square feet of commercial space that will include Western Canada’s largest electric vehicle charging station, drive-through restaurants, a sit-down local restaurant, coffeeshop and a dog park.

Tenants for Gateway 286 have not yet been selected since the marketing has not begun but, Threlfall said, there has been a lot of interest.

“Right now, we’re designing the site with the intent of not really doing a lot of phasing because, I think, the demand is going to be there to have it fully built out in Phase 1,” Threlfall said.

That means almost all of Gateway 286 could be open by the fall of 2023. The gas station will likely open first with other outlets to follow.

The City of Merritt will borrow $7.6 million to fund the extension of water and sewer lines to the site, to be paid by the Gateway 286 developers and Palomino Pointe Estates.

READ MORE: Plans solidifying for the old Merritt rest stop — and a nearby casino

The Palamino development is proposing a casino, a 100-room hotel and up to 450 homes for people 55 and older on 64.5 acres of land just up the hill towards Kelowna from the rest area.

For more on Gateway 286, go here.

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