Selling a narrow stretch of road around the old Esso lot and closing it to traffic for good, are the first official signs that something is in the works for the long-vacated property in downtown Trail.
The city recently wrapped up the sale of two small sections of roadway to a developer from Vancouver.
As part of that $14,400 purchase agreement, which actually began more than a year ago, the properties had to be consolidated through a step-by-step process.
For starters, the municipality had to remove the “highway dedication” classification from the two roadways in question, those being the lane next to Speedpro Signs on Pine Avenue, and a slice of Tamarac Avenue butting up to the lot.
“Triumph Properties Ltd. is proposing to redevelop the property at 798 Victoria Street (former Esso lot) and wishes to purchase these lands from the city to serve the development’s needs,” explained Michelle McIsaac, Corporate Administrator for Trail.
“In order to raise title to the lands to allow for the subsequent sale, we have to close the portions of road right-of-way and remove the highway dedication through the bylaw process.”
Council got down to business Monday night by adopting the respective highway dedication removal bylaw.
This action was preceded by council advertising its intention to enact these changes before giving three readings to the bylaw on June 24.
The city also provided the opportunity for public feedback at the July 15 council meeting, though no input was received.
Further, because the portion of highway to be closed is within 800 metres of an arterial highway, that being Highway 3B, approval from the Ministry of Transportation was required prior to adoption. McIsaac says the provincial stamp of consent was received Aug. 13.
The site has been vacant since Trail Esso closed in 2009. After years of no movement, the former Imperial Oil (Esso) gas station was cleaned up to meet environmental standards required for sale, then listed for $629,000 in the fall of 2017.
For the past few years there have been rumours, nothing confirmed, that a developer was coming in to build on the lot.
To facilitate the sale of the city’s right-of-ways, in early June, McIsaac reported to council that Triumph Properties was proposing to build a gas station with a convenience store as well as an eating and drinking establishment.
The company submitted an offer to the city for the purchase of municipal road right-of-way at the rear and on the southwesterly side of the private property … in May 2018, she clarified.
“A Purchase and Sale Agreement between Triumph Properties and the city was entered into in July 2018 for these lands.”
The purchase price of $14,400 resulted from a professional appraisal.
The Esso lot is zoned C5, or Highway Commercial, unlike one block east at the former Union Hotel site where the building of a gas station or car wash is not permitted under C1, or general commercial zoning.
Highway Commercial, on the other hand, does allow a wider range of uses, including automobile service stations and car washes, dealerships, tire sales and repair shops, as well as hotels, grocery stores, and drive-in food establishments.