From left: Frans Helmes and Ben Nickel wash a truck at Bluenose Motor Company’s new service and detailing facility on Industrial Way, where a rainwater collection system has been installed. — Adam Kveton Photo

Bluenose goes green at new Parksville location

Rainwater collection, oil separation systems at Industrial Way detail and service shops

It’s no secret that the Parksville Qualicum Beach area has a tough time conserving water in the summer months.

But what do you do when part of your business involves routinely dumping bucketfuls of water on dirty vehicles?

Bluenose Motor Company came up with a solution with the help of the RDN and the City of Parksville for the company’s new facility at 1390 Industrial Way.

The company now has a rainwater collection system that can store more than 6,800 litres of water for use on-site.

The idea came from Frans Helmes, with input from Bluenose’s detailing team, and the company built the system itself at a cost of about $2,000, said Helmes.

Since the detail shop opened at its Industrial Way location about two months ago, Helmes said, the system has been “amazing,” with one employee even choosing to making his coffee with the rainwater.

The need for the system came from Bluenose moving its service and detailing site from Springhill Road to Industrial Way, onto a piece of land the company had purchased about five years ago and had been leasing to other businesses, said Al Cameron, co-owner.

The move meant being closer to the business’s car lot, from which 30 per cent of Bluenose’s service and detailing work comes, said Cameron.

It also meant moving off city water and getting the shop’s water from a well, he said. But that all changed with Helmes’ plan, which directly led to the relocation of the detail shop to the same location.

While Cameron planned for the service shop to move to Industrial Way (it opened about seven months ago), he’d initially planned to lease the building that would become the detail shop. However, the same day that was to take place, Helmes contacted Cameron with his rainwater reclamation plan — and his elbow grease.

Helmes owned a detail company (Precision Detailing in Nanaimo) until selling it recently. Cameron had been interested in partnering with Helmes years ago but Helmes proved too busy to take it on. Now, happy to leave a lot of paperwork behind, Helmes went to work for Cameron and the new detail shop came to be.

The shop can use more than 900 litres of water on a winter day, said Helmes, though that number will certainly increase over the summer.

Depending on need and weather, the water collection system can send water into the well, or the well can be used to fill up the water tank.

“We just felt that, because we’re not on the city water here, that (the rainwater collection system) was a good way to ensure that we didn’t run out of water,” said Cameron.

“It’s given us that safety,” agreed Helmes. “We can’t do this business without water. It’s impossible. From washing all the way to all the interior cleaning and running the extractors.”

“And, more importantly, it’s just one small way to help do our part to be environmentally friendly,” added Cameron.

Asked about designing the system, Helmes said “I think the meeting with the RDN was very vital,” as they provided Bluenose with guidelines, ideas and a book of 10 different systems that the company could mimic.

In addition to the rainwater collection system, the site also has two oil/water separators, and Cameron has ordered a new furnace for the detail shop that will utilize used motor oil as a fuel source.

“The service shop next door has an abundance (of oil), as you can imagine,” Cameron added.

He also plans to install a charging station for electric cars. That will add to the services the facility already provides, which include, in addition to work on regular vehicles, mechanical repair, servicing and detailing of RVs. And, of course, a complimentary wash and vacuum with every service.

Moving to the Industrial Way location has also meant more space for the detailing shop, with capacity increasing from about two cars to five or six now.

Asked what he thinks of his growing business, Cameron said he’s been shaped by his Nova Scotia roots (the company is named after a famous schooner built in Nova Scotia that also adorns dimes), but added his stint working for the Jim Pattison group also gave him some drive to move up in the world.

“When I started in the car business in Victoria working for Jim Pattison… I was only there for three months, and who rolls in with an entourage after a few months but Jimmy himself? So that definitely motivated me — meeting him.”

The Bluenose Motors office is located at 690 Island Hwy. E. in Parksville, and the sales floor is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The detailing shop and service centre are located at 1390 Industrial Way in Parksville’s industrial area. To make an appointment or for more info, call 250-248-2484 or visit

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