Rules for demolition under review 

Petro-Canada site sparks concern

By Alison Taylor

The unsightly demolition of the Petro-Canada station in Creekside has council thinking about ways to regulate teardowns in Whistler.

Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden suggested the idea at Monday’s council meeting on the heels of a letter from a property owner complaining about the “PetroCan land hole.”

“What a shameful mess,” wrote Kim Greene-Deslauriers, who rents her townhouse chalet just steps away from the construction site. “You really have to see this PetroCan site to believe that this is an acceptable standard in any first world country.”

Council agreed with her concerns.

“If this was November 2009 and this was going on, we’d have a bit of a black eye,” said Wilhelm-Morden, referring to the months before the 2010 Olympic Games when the world’s media will be in Whistler.

Petro-Canada was named an official sponsor of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games in June with a $62.5 million sponsorship deal.

The company began tearing down its Creekside gas station at the end of September in order to clean up the site contaminated by an old underground fuel leak. That cleanup was necessary before work could begin on realigning Whistler Creek and finally finishing the landscaping at Franz’s Trail.

But local residents have been dealt a double blow this year, living next to not only the gas station demolition but also the neighbouring Intrawest construction of its Evolution project.

Wilhelm-Morden suggested this week that there may be ways to enforce stricter regulations at demolition sites, such as protective fencing or boarding that would shield the public from the site. The regulations could also enforce strict timelines on when the work must be done.

Currently owners are required to get a demolition permit issued by the municipal building department through the B.C. Building Code. It is provincial legislation that sets out the requirements to meet public and fire safety issues. Municipal bylaw regulations cannot supercede the provincial legislation set out in the building code.

Petro-Canada met all the requirements in their demolition permit.

The issue is further complicated because the site is no longer a construction site. It’s a remedial environmental site and as such it falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment and its requirements.

Municipal information officer Diana Waltmann said staff will be asking Petro-Canada to put up something more substantial around the site.

Councillor Gordon McKeever also asked staff to press Petro-Canada to reassert its intentions for the site. Whistler, he said, has seen some of the challenges of losing that gas station after a power failure and a delayed fuel delivery shut down the Husky station twice for hours at a time in recent weeks.

This week, however, Petro-Canada spokesperson Allyson Zarowny could not say with certainty they would be building a new gas station.

“We haven’t finalized our plans for the future of the site but we’re going to make sure we work with the town and…. we want to make sure that all the services of the municipality are being met and we’re taking all those factors into consideration,” she said.

Remediation of the fuel spill will be finished by the end of December, she said. Then they will wait for their environmental approvals before the creek bed can be moved.

“We recognize the excavation work has left the site in a poor aesthetic condition and apologize to the residents for any inconvenience,” said Zarowny.

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