2009-11-30

Last gasp for downtown gas

Coyotes only drive in emergencies. But we did note with a twinge of passing-of-an-era melancholy that the last gas station in the downtown precinct proper was shuttered a week or so back, at Metcalfe and O'Connor.

The building was boarded, whitewashed, and corporate identities rapidly sanitized to erase all visual clues to the former proprietors' identity. A plethora of big ugly concrete blocks now bars pirate parkers. Since the corporation in question is so obviously deeply ashamed of what went on there, we will respect its circumspection, and discretely state only that their name rhymed with, ummm, "Shell".

I know hair-splitters are at this moment, thinking, "Oh yeah? Aren't there self-serves on Gladstone? And Catherine? Uh-huh. But they're all across Gladstone from downtown, and that's where I draw the line. My post, my rules. Brrrraaaapppp!!! I digress.

It's just another very late chapter in the story of the migration from downtown of actual services and businesses that actually make life work for actual live people. Lotsa bureaucracy, coffee and snacks, but heaven forbid you should want to gas your Vespa (or Buick) without driving halfway to the freakin' 'burbs. Let's not even start on free air. This gas station was perhaps one of the city's last petrol purveyors with a free air hose for all and sundry. (I think cyclists may have liked the place.) Or in another, less fresh but still rankling example, hit a Canadian Tire on your civil-servant lunch hour for a few hardware needs. Gone, gone and gone.

Downtowns need to be livable for cities to work. Even dysfunctional city councils at least claim to understand that. It's why they talk about urban intensification, and push big downtown condo developments in city plans.

Trouble is, the people who buy those condos have to drive to the suburbs to buy nearly anything other than take-out. The everyday businesses that that help make places really livable? Like, not offices, office suppliers, cafes, bars, or tchotchke merchants? They seem to be getting the hell out of Dodge. And leaving Dodge propped up on big ugly concrete blocks with the wheels off...

7 comments:

joelcrary said...

I live around the corner from the lot. Do you see a condo in its future? I'm not sure it would be big enough, unless they infiltrated Heck's convenience store and the parking lot next door.

coyote said...

Before any of that, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess lots of environmental assessments. Then environmental mitigation to dig up underground tanks and cart away that funny-smelling dirt around 'em.

Then the condos...?

XUP said...

Umm, somehow I don't think Ottawa City Council pushes downtown condo developments because of their vision for a thriving, livable downtown. If that's the ONLY thing in their downtown revitilization plan that's actually ever gets the go-ahead for implementation, I suspect other motive$

nursemyra said...

move to australia

mad jack said...

Shell out on the highway is closed and coming down here, too.

coyote said...

Inconvenient if you need gas. But their appetizers were sub-abysmal. And coyotes are all about the appetizers...

Nanookie said...

Amen! Don't get me started on restaurants that don't even bother to open on the weekends. We downtown-dwellers clearly aren't worthy of their food...