Shell Canada is mulling a Town of Sylvan Lake request to turn a former gas station site at one of the community’s most prominent corners into a temporary parking lot.
The oil company had previously said it intended to demolish the building on site and remove the underground storage tanks before cleaning up the lot. The property which would be left gravelled and surrounded by a chain link fence, is to be put up for sale.
Concerned about creating an eyesore, town council wasn’t keen to see a chain link fence go up around the empty lot.
It was suggested the lot be left unfenced and either seeded with grass or turned into a parking lot during the busy summer season.
Shell Canada representative Shon McDougall came to council on Monday night to discuss the future of the site at 50th Street and Lakshore Drive.
McDougall said leaving the 24,000-square-foot corner lot grassed could pose problems because the oil company would be left having to water and cut the grass. Turning the lot into temporary parking through a short-team lease with the town might be a possibility, he told council. “I’d have to give it serious consideration.”
Mayor Susan Samson said the town would handle maintenance and provide the parking bumpers if Shell would agree to a lease.
Under the county’s bylaws, a permanent parking lot is not allowed at that location, but a temporary lot would be allowed until the property is sold.
Samson said it makes sense to make use of the location. “If it’s sitting empty, why shouldn’t it be a parking lot,” she said after the council meeting.
“If it sold right away, that would really be a perfect world that we would have development there. That’s what I would like. But if it doesn’t sell right away we might as well be using it.”
Council unanimously approved a permit to allow demolition to go ahead on the site.
Shell Canada will discuss the future of the lot with town staff and then come back with a proposal to a future council meeting.
Commercial realtor Ralph Salomons is handling the marketing and selling of the site for Shell. Salomons said the site is prime real estate and may quickly find a buyer.
“I think it has the potential for a redevelopment in a very short period of time,” he said.
Council has a particular interest in the site, which is directly opposite from another corner lot that has been a headache for years.
That site was supposed to be home to a showcase hotel and later condominium project, but only an underground parkade was completed before the project stalled.
The site and its untidy expanse of concrete studded with sections of rebar was a source of local complaints for years until the town was able to work out an agreement with the owners to grass the corner and surround it with a decorative fence to spruce up the lot.