When Mark James arrived at Quadra Island’s only gas station today he was in for a shock — the store was closed and the pumps turned off for lack of employees.
“I’m almost out of gas and I got to go to work tomorrow so what do I do?” asked James.
The Gas n Go station was already operating on reduced hours before the station closed yesterday afternoon. Signs on the pumps and doors blame “terrible ownership and management.”
“No gas [and] the tourists are coming. I made a post on the Campbell River page so that people coming here knew to get gas before they came because of RV’s and boats. They pull in here to get gas because they’re happy to make a ferry,” said Brenda Binnersley, a Quadra Island resident.
“Makes it tougher for small business or anyone, tourists you name it,” said John Clark who owns a painting and decorating company.
Quadra Island’s regional director says running the Island’s only gas station is an essential service with police, fire and ambulance among those relying on it.
“I’ve got to go to Campbell River to get gas. Well add 25 bucks to your tank fillup because you got to pay for a ferry to get home,” said Jim Abram, the area’s director with the Strathcona Regional District.
Abram says if the owner can’t keep the gas station open for regular convenient hours he’d like to see it sold to someone who can.
The station’s former long-term manager left a few months ago.
“I had to make that decision to put me and my family first. I put in a solid 10 years, the best reflection of myself I could give but I had to make the decision to just bow out and put my energy where it mattered,” said Keri Smith.
But the station’s owner says the pumps are shut because he can’t find people to work there.
Wayne Proctor says he was already actively looking for more employees when one quit today with no notice. He says he realizes how important it is to keep the station open and in the summer, business is the most profitable.
He says someone will be opening it tomorrow and onward and he’s one among many business owners trying to find enough staff.
Proctor says the company has a long track record of being a good employer.
Mark James says he’s not sure if he’ll make it to work tomorrow without going to Campbell River for gas.
“It’s leaving a lot of people in a tight spot I would say,” he said.
The owner says the station will be open tomorrow between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and he has several openings starting at $16.50 hourly to low-to-mid $20’s for a station manager.
Vancouver Island restaurants have also been cutting back hours for a lack of employees.