‘Unsightly eyesore’: James Bay residents hope developers will hit the gas on area’s only filling station

'Unsightly eyesore': James Bay residents hope developers will hit the gas on area's only filling station
Photo: Katie McCready
The property is currently derelict, but locals are hoping the planned gas station at 308 Menzies St. in James Bay will soon come to fruition.

James Bay residents have launched a new petition calling on Victoria’s mayor and council to address a planned development that appears to have run out of fuel.

Petitioner Jen Reimer says the developer hit the brakes on the gas station project at 308 Menzies St. years ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it sits partially complete, surrounded by temporary fencing and overrun by weeds.

“Since 2017, this embarrassing eyesore has been stalled on a main artery in our beautiful community. It’s held hostage to much-needed fuel/propane/charging services required by 12,700 residents, various businesses and dozens of workers and visitors,” wrote Reimer on the Change.org page, which launched June 7.

“It’s a magnet for vandalism and other crimes.”

The location is the former home of Save-On Gas, which was James Bay’s only gas station before it closed.

During a Dec. 2016 James Bay Neighbourhood Association meeting, attendees discussed the property, with plans to rezone the Save-On into a new gas station with offices and commercial space, including a convenience store.

A Google Maps street view shows the Save-On still operating as of May 2018. Victoria Archives says the original oil service station was around since the ’60s.

“There was a gas station for years, and it had a convenience store. It had a few employees who were told they’d get rehired,” said Katie McCready, who lives nearby and recently clipped posters on the now derelict property’s fencing.

“James Bay wants a gas station now!” wrote McCready. “Enough it enough,” she adds, “Either build it to sell it to someone who will!” 

There is currently no gas station in James Bay. The nearest stations are in surrounding neighbourhoods, including Fairfield and Fernwood, or across the Johnson Street bridge in Vic West. A gas station map is here.

“It’s really annoying. Even just to get oil, I ran out a couple of months ago, and I had to take a bus to Quadra (Street) to get some. You have to go out to Fairfield or Esquimalt,” McCready told CHEK News.

“James Bay is the only community in the City without a gas station, and this is NOT ACCEPTABLE! According to Google, the closest station is the Shell at 2.1 kms away in Vic West across the Johnson Street Bridge,” wrote Reimer.

The property’s landlord “resides in Hong Kong (and) carries out minimal, intermittent construction or small changes to avoid the Abandoned Properties Bylaw 85.058 restrictions, according to Reimer, who says, “His architect is no longer on the project,” also alleging, “some construction companies have not been paid.”

She says Victoria councillors in Dec. 2021 discussed the problem of derelict properties and “directed staff to find a resolution, but to date, nothing has happened!” prompting her to launch the petition about 308 Menzies.

It’s “an unsightly eyesore,” adds McCready.

“It looks grimy,” she said. “There are stray cats and vermin. It attracts graffiti. When it starts to look rundown, people want to trash it more.”

“I’m hoping there’s some way to get to the bottom of it.”

Reimer is seeking 500 signatures, and as of Sunday afternoon, the petition has garnered about half that goal.

“NOW, IT’S MORE THAN TIME that council/staff change the status of this neglected site by directing the owner to complete or sell the property within a foreseeable deadline. This petition will be presented to Council when a sufficient number of concerned citizens have signed, in order to effect change,” she added.

Meanwhile, McCready says she’s gotten positive feedback about her posters.

“We’ve been talking about doing it for a while, so why not do it now,” she said. “A lot of people have come up and thanked me.”

CHEK News reached out to the City of Victoria for comment.

A link to the petition is here.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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