Petro-Canada’s plans to build a temporary gas station in Whistler have been shelved at the last minute, prompting council to ask staff to look for other fuelling opportunities.
“(It’s) not viable to move forward with this plan,” said Mayor Ken Melamed, who pulled Petro-Canada’s application from the council agenda at Monday’s meeting. The decision to forego the plan was made on Friday.
The mayor explained it was a mutual decision between the company and council.
Petro-Canada spokesperson Sneh Seetal confirmed that the company had submitted plans for a temporary facility that would have had three pumps, a small kiosk, and a mechanical and restroom structure. It was to be dismantled in the fall of 2009 in order to give the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC) space for use during the Games.
“We had a plan,” said Seetal. “We put that forward but the municipality wants to go in another direction and we respect that.”
Seetal said the site, which is located in Creekside, would be offered to VANOC for use now. Petro-Canada is a VANOC national sponsor at a commitment valued at $62.5 million, which includes products, services, cash and athlete support.
“Our focus now is on making that site ready for VANOC to use,” said Seetal.
Part of council’s issue with the proposal was that it offered no permanent facility, particularly leaving a gap in the resort’s fuelling infrastructure at what could be one of its busiest times in history, the winter of 2009-2010.
In addition, the fuelling tanks were designed to go above ground.
“As we worked through the details, the pros and cons of the proposal, we came to a mutual agreement that it probably wasn’t worth pursuing a temporary facility,” said Melamed. “At this point we want to look at a permanent facility and if we have to miss another winter with the absence of that gas station, then so be it, but we should invest the time in finding a better permanent location somewhere in the community.”
Whistler has had just one gas station servicing the community ever since the Petro-Canada station closed one year ago for environmental remediation work. The fallout from that closure has been long lineups at the Husky gas station.
Council was quick to point out that it recognizes the need for another station.
“We don’t flippantly just reject these things,” said Councillor Ralph Forsyth.
He hoped the marketplace would decide that there’s an under-serviced market in Whistler for gas.
In the meantime, council wants to ensure the way is paved for any future prospects. It has directed staff to investigate and report back on opportunities to provide the community and visitors with alternatives and/or additional capacity for vehicle fuelling.
A gas station was approved as part of the Rainbow subdivision north of the village. As there is no activity at the Rainbow site it is not clear when that station will be up and running.
Petro-Canada is evaluating its options in the market, which include looking at other pieces of land for a gas station.