The Pictou resident recently purchased more than 120 acres of farm and treed land that resides along the Trans Canada Highway that travels to the local ferry service in hopes of turning it into the Northumberland Commercial Park.
“I started looking for a piece of property for my own business, Lonach Industries, and this turned out to be the best property for the price. It's nice land and in a good area so I started looking into what else I could do. This is what we need here,” he said.
Lonach Industries specializes in being a marine and industrial service provider with backhoe and bulldozer services, but he said he has some expansion in mind.
Forbes has been working in Western Canada for the past 15 years with frequent trips home, but he hopes after this park gets established he can settle back in Pictou County as a permanent resident.
“I bought this around Christmastime,” he said. “I hiked down there in the snow and tried to picture what I could do and how I could do it. It’s coming together slowly.”
He estimates the front of the property has room to house about five commercial businesses that could range from fishing supply, automotive or heavy-duty service/retail stores.
The back of the property will house a campground with drive-thru parking spots, cabins for rent overlooking a ravine and a swimming pool. In behind the campsite will be walking or biking trails on land that can be developed later for other businesses.
Opposite the commercial properties will be his business and some storage buildings and on the front of the lot will be an old-style diner.
“Right now, trucks, campers have very few places to eat in Pictou,” he said, adding that it’s difficult for big rigs and campers to get around the town so they usually bypass it altogether. “Here, they can turn in and park their rig and eat.”
Forbes acknowledges it's a big project, but he is trying to focus on one section of the park at a time. He hopes to have a commercial business in the park by the fall and have the campsite operating by next summer.
“My main focus is the road and the first commercial building lot preparations,” he said. “If we have a buyer right away we will start on it. If not, we will prepare the site for the first commercial building and water and sewer system. My carpenter will start building a cabin and my dozer operator will start the campsite. The campsite should be up and running by next summer. If we tried hard, we could have two or three units ready for people who needed a unit to put their camper on for herring fishing season. There always people looking to put a camper during the season.”
He said some businesses have expressed interest in the using the park.
“This is the type of business were a sewer and water system can accommodate five or six businesses,” he said. “The Town of Pictou is full now and a tractor-trailer dropping off a bale of rope to a fishing supply business can shut down parking in the town. We would look after all of the grass cutting and snow removal so when a business opens up in the morning, all that work is done.”