Gas service proposed for Square

Julie Andrés

(The Bowen Island Undercurrent, June 9 2000, p1: with permission)

Alan Leigh, councillor and owner of Bowen Fuels, has applied for a temporary use permit to operate a fuel service depot at Artisan Square. The application is for a six-month permit with potential for a one-year extension. If all of the hoops are successfully jumped through in a timely fashion, it could be approved as early as the June 26 council meeting. Artisan Square owner Doug Berry, who has to agree to the terms of the permit, says that the site would be strata lot 3, next to Bowen Rentals on Prometheus Place. “It would be an above ground tank, double walled and very safe,” he says. “It would be staffed by Al and his family and would handle mid-range gas, that is, premium and regular.” Because of the amount of fuel that can be transported by Bowen Fuels, Berry and Leigh both anticipate limited hours of service. Information on the Bowen Online website quotes Leigh as saying, “The amount of gasoline...would be approximately 50 per cent of that now supplied to the Island by Chevron. Chevron now sells approximately 24,000 liters of gas per week. I would only be able to supply 12,000 liters per week. I would encourage any islanders who are able to get gas in town to do that.” Berry says, “It will probably only be open five days per week with prices comparable to what the Chevron station now offers.”

An environmental overview, prepared for the Islands Trust on May 31 by Alan Whitehead of Whitehead Environmental Consultants, Ltd., is positive in its assessment of Leigh's proposal. It says, in part, “Mr. Leigh has demonstrated considerable diligence in reviewing alternative sites for such a facility on the island, and has selected a site that presents low environmental sensitivity compared to other alternatives that were reviewed. In that regard, the proposed location at Artisan Square is far from any surface watercourse or groundwater well, and, because of its flat locale on a hillside, facilitates the control of site drainage by gravity.”

For Leigh's application to be successful it must progress through procedural steps. These include permit application processing by the Islands Trust, approval by Municipal Council, and approval by the Fire Chief. The Land Use Committee (PLUC) is addressing the issue at their meeting on June 19. “The ideal situation would be for the PLUC to deal specifically with the temporary use permit at their meeting and then for it to be sent to Council for approval at their June 26 meeting,” says Islands Trust planner Cristina Rucci. “That is my hope.” Whitehead's report states that the proposal by Leigh has been reviewed and approved by Fire Chief Alan Still in a letter dated May 31.

Berry says he is charging Leigh “nominal” rent for use of the site. “I'm doing it partly as a public service, but it will also be good exposure for Artisan Square. And I won't haveto go to town for gas,” he laughs. An optimistic estimate of the time of opening would be about a week or so after council approval, according to Berry, but it is even possible that there won't be any lapse in time when the island will be without fuel service. “After council approval, I can have the tank set up in a couple of days,” he says.

The Undercurrent contacted Leigh for information and was told by Leigh's wife, Stacey, that they had had already provided The Island News with an extensive interview and had agreed with reporter Susan Griffin and editor and publisher Jean Michel Krief of The Island News not to grant the Undercurrent an interview.“Their paper isn't coming out until June 16 and they didn't want it to be old news,” said Stacey. According to Alan, “They (The Island News) said that they would drop their story altogether if the Undercurrent carried it first.” Krief says that he only asked that they not give the same information to the Undercurrent as, was given to The News.

Berry and Krief are currently in the early stages of forming a food cooperative at Artisan Square. Berry says that building plans are being drawn up, corporate structure is being formed and financing options are being explored. Berry also alluded to the possibility of a permanent gas service at that site should the Chevron site not be reopened as a .gas facility.

Meanwhile, the Chevron closure on June 30 is scheduled to take place as planned. Chevron's spokesperson, Jennifer Parkinson-Dow has provided some additional information to this paper and to the mayor and council. She states: “We approached the purchaser (Robin Smith) in his capacity as a realtor to help us find a purchaser who could operate the station as a going concern. Mr. Smith took a personal interest in the project and subsequently signed a purchaser agreement with us.” Even though it appears that Mr. Smith was their first contact, she then goes on to say, “We have worked hard to find a purchaser who would continue fuel sales.”

With regard to the possibility of the current purchase not being completed Parkinson-Dow says, “We are quite open to receiving back-up offers should this purchaser be unable or unwilling to complete the deal following our environmental cleanup. We have read that a cooperative group maybe interested in running a station.” She said that Chevron has also recently received calls of interest from people in Alberta.

Page last updated 00-06-16