All posts by Alex Quesnel

LOSING STEAM: Limits on e-cigarettes threaten industry, users

(PHOTO: Patrick Riley, owner of VapeKing on Stittsville Main Street, is wary of the effect that new regulations may have on his business.)

As the Ontario government moves to impose restrictions on e-cigarettes, business owners, lawyers and users are contemplating the effects that regulations may have on the industry.

VapeKing, located at Stittsville Main and Hobin Street, is so far the only shop selling e-cigarette products in the community. The store, which belongs to a Quebec-based franchise, opened in Stittsville last November, the same month Quebec levied its own rules on the public consumption of e-cigarettes, essentially treating them the same as tobacco products. Continue reading


Slow sales push back construction of Stittsville Walk condos

Despite a change of ownership and a total rebranding, the condo development at 1491 Stittsville Main Street is still struggling to find buyers, pushing the expected completion date to mid-2017.

Taylor Bennett, sales representative for Bennett Property Shop Realty, has been in charge of the account since December and admits it’s difficult to sell homes in the current environment.

“It’s not the greatest time for real estate,” he explains. “So we haven’t done a huge amount of marketing yet.”

The site was rebranded as Stittsville Walk after a change in ownership in the summer of 2015.

However construction isn’t expected to begin until the end of 2016 and it could be later if there’s not enough interest.

“It really depends on how sales go,” says Bennett. “Once we have a little more than half sold out they can start building it, which will take six months.”

Construction for an original project called Reverie Quarters ceased in 2013, and the original design sparked community backlash that eventually led to the drafting of a new Community Design Plan (CDP) for Stittsville Main Street.

Bennett says a reason behind the current rebrand is to “make it more accepted.”

The original site plan called for four of the condo buildings, plus a fifth multi-story commercial building along Stittsville Main Street. Bennett confirmed that while there are no plans to eliminate any of the five buildings in the original plan, they will all be redesigned.

To this end, the company has introduced new 1,500-square foot bungalow units with indoor parking in addition to the two-storey terrace townhouses originally advertised.

The rebrand had to include the structure from the previous development, complicating the process for Bennett and his team.

“We didn’t have total freedom,” he explains. “Ideally we wanted to have a bunch of one-level living styles, but we were confined to the existing building.”

Nevertheless he says the new plan will be appropriate for Stittsville Main as envisioned in the new CDP.

“I think the bungalows will be well received,” says Bennett. “We think this fits the demographic looking to live in Stittsville a little better.”

Artist conception of what the new Stittsville Walk will look like.
Artist conception of what the new Stittsville Walk will look like.


Conflicting views in Carp over Energy East pipeline

Conflicting views on the proposed Energy East pipeline were on full display in Carp Wednesday night.

Trans Canada, the pipeline developers, held a safety information session at Carp Agricultural Hall, while members of environmental group Ecology Ottawa handed out pamphlets outside warning about the dangers of oil spills. Continue reading


RUNNING ON EMPTY: Owner silent on plans for old gas station

The future remains uncertain for the defunct gas station located at 5938 Hazeldean Road in Stittsville. It’s been a decade since anyone’s pumped gas there, and the derelict building has residents wondering about the owners’ plans for the property.

This week a crew was seen removing a gas tank from the ground.

The site dates back to the 1960s and was one of Stittsville’s first gas stations. Several companies operated out of the location in its early years, notably Fina and British Petroleum (BP). In the 2000s Joe Saab, namesake of the Saab gas station on Ogilvie Road, leased the property for his business. Several online records list it as a Esso station.  As late as 2008, National Petroleum operated out of this location, and this is still the company name displayed on the street sign today.

Various sources have told that the Sharpley family is the historic owner of the property. Allan Sharpley was in possession of the gas station until his death several decades ago, whereupon his sons reportedly inherited it.

Service Ontario’s Land Registry Office lists David Sharpley as the current owner of the property. He has confirmed via LinkedIn that he is in fact the owner, however he did not respond to several requests for an interview.

Other members of the community have had difficulty contacting the owners of the site as well. Ralph Shaw, a real estate agent for Century 21 in Carleton Place, inquired about the property a year ago. “Good luck,” he joked when asked about the gas station, “but we could never find the owners.”

Aside from a used clothing donations bin, and some garbage dumped behind the building, little activity has been observed around the property before today. Ironically, a sign on the front door still displays the company’s business hours. A City of Ottawa business license granted to National Petroleum in 2008 is still visible on the wall inside the abandoned building.

Neighbouring residents and businesses, including rival gas company Mr. Gas across the street, say they’re concerned about potential pollution from underground gasoline tanks that are still buried at the site.

“The City […] is not aware of any contamination issues at this property at this time,” said the City of Ottawa in an email attributed to Don Herweyer, Manager of Development Review.

The City of Ottawa does not keep a list of contaminated properties, although it does maintain a Historical Land Use Inventory (HLUI), which can include gas stations.

Given the age of the structure, contamination is a legitimate concern. Michael S. Hebert, a lawyer with Beament Green Barristers and Solicitors in Ottawa, notes that gas stations built over a half-century ago did not face the strict environmental regulations that are in place today. As a result, it is not uncommon for these old sites to be contaminated today.

Unfortunately, the remedy comes with a high price tag. “Clean up costs can be as little as $50,000, but do go to millions,” he said. Since this can be higher than the land value itself, landowners are often willing to keep the property and pay the tax rather than clean up the polluted areas. While the Ontario Ministry of the Environment has the authority to issue clean up orders, it typically only does so in high-risk situations.

Joe Saab says he had no knowledge of any contamination issues when he leased the property in the mid-2000s.

Even if there’s no contamination, the gas station’s neighbours wonder how long they’ll have to live next to the eyesore.  The neglected Hazeldean Road gas station, a relic of Stittsville’s past, has ostensibly been abandoned.


Gendron Antiques to close as owners get set for retirement

(Above Marc and Line Gendron in front of the bright red-and-green barn near Hazeldean Road.  Photo by Barry Gray.)

Another local business with deep roots in Stittsville has announced it will be closing its doors. Gendron Antiques and Productions will cease operations at the end of November this year. The company will then have until December 31 to move out and pass the building on to new ownership.

“The whole reason behind the sale is retirement,” says owner Marc Gendron.  Despite continued success for the business, he and his wife Line are ready for the next chapter in their lives. “We’re getting up to the age where we really want to take time for ourselves and we had an offer for the property we couldn’t refuse.”

The company has been family owned and operated since 1965. Marc Gendron’s parents started the company a half-century ago, with his father purchasing items and his mother refinishing them. The company grew slowly at the old Stittsville Flea Market across the street from their current location. Since 2002, Marc and Line have operated out of their current location at 1145 Carp Road near Hazeldean.

The Gendrons might have decided it is time to move on, but they insist that they are not closing the business entirely. “We’re not going to open another store, we’re just going to ‘wheel and deal’ a bit, probably going to go to the old flea market and sell stuff off, maybe put some in consignment somewhere. But we really want to reduce the scale.”

Moreover, Marc ensures the family tradition will live on through his son Nicolas.

“My son is going to be renting the workshop in the back of the property from the future owner. He’s going to be using that shop for a year; he may renew it after that. He’s going to continue building things, new and reclaimed wood, fireplace, mantel, stuff like that. He’s also going to be doing furniture repair and refinishing.”

Whether or not Nicolas decides to get into the antiques remains to be seen. As it stands, his role will focus strictly on reproduction.

The familiar green and red barn will remain at its current location and the new owners have plans to renovate the interior in 2016.

“Unfortunately I’m not at liberty, from the new owners, to say what’s going in there yet because it could jeopardize the plans. But the people were customers of ours and they always liked the building. They have a business and they decided that this would be perfect for it,” said Marc.

Marc and Line Gendron recently purchased a property in Carleton Place and have plans to settle down there. They may continue to sell some antiques, hoping to eventually dissolve their vast inventory that has been collected over decades in the business. Marc says he and his wife look forward to retirement. “We are able to enjoy life and do some traveling. Plus we’ve been working weekends since we were 15 years old – we want to have a bit of a life, you know!”

The business has been getting plenty of feedback from the community, with some people expressing their disappointment about the closure. “It’s sad. We have mixed feelings,” Marc agrees.

Yet with his tentative plans to operate part time in Carleton Place and his son carrying the torch in Stittsville, he ensures that people won’t be hearing the last of the Gendron family.

“We won’t be far away.”