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Gas stations need more than zoning

Developers look for ways to entice big oil



Despite having the zoning for two more gas stations in town - one to the north, the other to the south - Whistler remains a one-station show.

Developers are finding it hard to entice gas companies to Whistler if they can't give them enough convenience and coffee store space.

That's one of the reasons why Squamish Nation has sold its stake in the Function Junction commercial land, which is zoned for a gas station.

"There was too much risk for us," said Chief Gibby Jacob.

With no prospects of putting in a drive-through window at that location, to sell things such as coffee and doughnuts, Squamish Nation decided to sell its half of the undeveloped five acre commercial site. Lil'wat Nation is now full owner.

Jacob said the drive-through window was critical if Squamish Nation were to move ahead with the gas stations plans.

"For us, that was one of the only ways it was going to work," said the chief.

Lil'wat Chief Lucinda Phillips said they are in the early stages of planning.

"I think we are still looking at a gas station," said Phillips. "Obviously that land is big enough for a wide variety of things."

Sam Brovender, who is working to develop the commercial area at Rainbow, knows how difficult it is to entice gas stations without the right mix.

"We're having a hard time getting someone to operate the gas station," said Brovender.

"We still don't have a confirmed operator."

He said the money for the business isn't in the gas itself but the convenience store sales.

That's why Rainbow is in the process of a rezoning application to more than double the size of its gas station store from 1,110 square feet to 2,400 square feet.

Brovender said that once the bathrooms and back-of-house space is added, the operator would end up with about 1,000 square feet of sellable space.

It doesn't help that Rainbow is not in the path of visitor traffic.

"(Gas companies) just look at traffic volumes," said Brovender.




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