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 StittsvilleCentral.ca 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.