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Deal struck to clean up site of former gas station

by David Meyer

ELORA - The former Petro Canada property in the heart of the village here should look a lot better next spring now that council has reached a deal with the owner, Suncor.

After meeting in closed session to complete the details, council passed a bylaw on Monday night that gives it a lease for the northwest corner of Mill and Metcalfe Streets and the opportunity to clean up the property and beautify it. It has been a vacant lot since  the gas station there was torn down a year ago.

Chief Building Inspector Bob Foster negotiated the deal, and he said in an interview on Tuesday that because the land needs a clean-up, the township is not permitted to call it a park. He explained when Suncor suddenly closed the station and tore it down, the company found contamination on the property. The company removed the topsoil, but Foster said contamination went right into cracks in the bedrock below, and that will take some years to dissipate.

“They can’t get it up to pristine clean,” he said.

Because of that, the company has been unable to sell the property, and Foster doubts it will ever have a residential structure, but over time it could become the site of a commercial outlet.

But, he said, that is years away, and in the meantime, merchants in the area were upset about its appearance. Foster said some of them contacted Suncor, and negotiations began.

Chief administrative officer Michael Wood said after the council meeting the lease is “basically the taxes” - about $3,600 a year.

“Suncor is planning to keep it on the market, but basically, they don’t expect to be able to sell it for 15 years,” Foster said.

Wood said public works director Ken Elder has dubbed the site “Sun Corners,” a take-off on BT Corner, in Fergus.

Foster said Suncor donated $5,000 to help with the beautification, and the Elora Business Improvement Area added another $4,000. Former township councillor and current county councillor Shawn Watters drew the plans.

Volunteers have already offered to help with planting.

That includes trees and shrubs, with Watters arranging for plants through the county Green Legacy program, and there is the possibility of artwork being displayed there too.

There is a statue known locally as “The Tall Man” just east of the intersection that Foster said might be moved to the site as well. Elder is consulting with the arts community about art being placed in the downtown.

Foster added the site might be the site of an information kiosk used to direct visitors to area attractions.

Council approved the deal unanimously.



September 30, 2011


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