It Gets Worse (July 2018)

I kept reading through the City of London’s site, thinking that there must be a section that pertained to residences next to commercial lots, with regards to fencing, lighting, etc. I googled things like “Gas Station Design” and “Gas Station Fencing”. Many communities DID have design guidelines for Gas and Service Stations, but London did not. Individual petroleum companies certainly had designers and planners who created the corporate look of their station, the style of the building and canopy, and how the lot was arranged. Since Esso and Mobil absolved themselves of the actual station ownership with regards to this location, there seemed to be no rules, bylaws, site planning or design consideration.

While searching for information I found this article on CBC about problems residents living next to a gas station in Scarborough were having:

Frankly this made my blood run cold.

I was oblivious to how a gas station functioned, except that there were pumps and underground tanks. I supposed that there were some kind of safety set up to prevent fires and explosions. I had noticed the new silver pipes, about 4′ from the property line. I hadn’t smelt any gas so I assumed that I was lucky and this set up wasn’t a problem.

We’ll need to come back to this picture. You can see my house, the short fence with my canvas privacy cloth. That dumpster is also sitting right there, boldly, with stuff that should be in the dumpster sitting beside it, as will become a habit. It is visible over my fence, and looks unsightly next to a house, I thought.


This is when you pull back further:


and further:


This gives a better sense of how this station is on a higher elevation in relation to my house. It also shows where those vent pipes are in relation to the doors and windows on my house.

Hey – look at that ice locker sitting where a tire inflation compressor could be !

I did more searching, and contacted many departments at the City of London. The Building Division was NOT responsible in any way, shape or form for the location of these vent pipes. I chased around a couple of individuals in Site Planning for weeks until we were finally able to speak on the phone. While Site Planning would be responsible for  issues pertaining to a gas station’s design, with regards to elevation, the building design, lighting, traffic flow, garbage storage, etc., because this site had previously sold gas, and the existing building was renovated (no new construction) this property was utterly exempt from any Site Planning Approval Process whatsoever. It was assumed that there had been site planning done, from when the gas station was built. Since there was no change of use, or even a building addition, it was assumed that the Site Planning Approval (from when ? 1950 ?) was still valid, and did not warrant further inspection. The TSSA – Technical Standards and Safety Authority govern fuel safety. They were the ones who had approved this vent location.

Then I had to chase them around. Fuck.

What If I Built My Own Fence ?(July 2018)

I wondered if the only way to create some privacy was to build my own fence , since the gas station obviously had no intention to. I found some plans online about how to attach fence panels to a chainlink fence, which seemed doable, although the 4′ height of the fence was a problem:

Then I wondered about whether the posts on the chainlink fence could be extended, and how much that would cost. I called a reputable local fence place, with professional  chainlink fence experience, and a guy came out for a quote. The posts could be made taller, and new chainlink screening installed. I got a quote for just the backyard section (42′), and a quote for the entire length of the retaining wall (61.5′). This was close to  $1400.00 for the backyard, and another $ 500.00 for the front portion. Hmm. This plus the cost of wood to make a privacy fence attached to the chainlink was pretty expensive. Then I wondered about buying canvas that was rot resistant, used for outdoor furniture, awnings, etc. for more durable privacy screening. The better quality 100% acrylic canvas cost about $ 30.00/yd – and I would still need to piece it, sew it, and attach grommets. 20 yards of 54″ wide canvas, plus an additional 10 yards to be pieced to make it wide enough = 30 yards = $ 900.00 before tax and shipping. This canvas was fade and rot resistant, but realistically had a lifespan of about 5 years of steady UV exposure.

$ 2900.00+ for a fence I should not have to build.

The City of London’s fence bylaw states that I could build a 7′ fence. However – since I was on a lower elevation by over 3′, my 7′ fence would be as tall as the 4′ chainlink fence, which was useless. I could build a 10′ privacy screen – but this had to be 48″ away from the property line. This would eat up a bunch of my backyard, and create a strange dead zone behind the privacy screen, by the retaining wall. Building a 10 foot privacy screen that was stable in a windy place like London would be trickier, and would need  expensive 16′ 6 x 6 posts to support the span and weight.

I asked the fence guy if he knew of any fence bylaws that pertained to businesses next to residences, or gas station fences. He said he did not.

I had observed that all the gas stations I passed, when I rode the #3 bus to the Argyle Mall, had fences next to residences. Even the fast food places had tall fences by residential neighbours. Some even had masonry walls, and many were taller than 7′.

Another issue was that I was assuming where the property line is. I did not have a survey and could not find the markers from a previous survey. I sure didn’t want to take down a fence that didn’t belong to me, or put up my own fence improvements on property that was not my own. I spoke with someone from the City, who deals with surveys. He told me that a new survey would cost $ 1200.00 or more.

I spoke to the former car lot owner, who thought he might have a copy of his survey, but then he couldn’t find it, so it was gone. No survey.

$ 1200.00 survey plus $ 2900.00 fence extension and sun proof canvas = $ 4100.00

On the new dumpster – which sat in the parking lot, with no enclosure, perfectly visible from my front yard, “Mobil” was written. There was no branding on the gas station but I had seen the scrap of garbage with the Esso label in my yard. I wrote Esso, who owns Mobil, an inquiry, regarding fencing.

This is the reply I received:

“Dear Andrea,

Reference # 658492

Thank you for your reply and the additional information.

We have forwarded your comments to BG Fuels, the branded wholesaler that is responsible for this station. At this time, the branded wholesaler is to assume the responsibility to action your complaint.

Please be advised that the retail site in question is supplied and owned by a Mobil Canada-branded wholesaler, as Mobil Canada does not own retail service stations within Canada.

The branded wholesaler is an independent business that sets their own operating practices and procedures, based on clear expectations of high customer service and operational standards when representing our brands. As such, we have impressed upon our branded wholesalers and their resellers the importance of providing prompt, courteous and reliable service at all times.

Your feedback is very important to us. Please rest assured that we have shared it with the branded wholesaler responsible for the retail site.  Thank you once again for contacting us.



Consumer Care Specialist”


So Esso doesn’t own this station, Mobil doesn’t own this station, it is a “branded wholesaler”. This absolves Esso or Mobil from even issuing design standards to the businesses that sell their product. Shameful.

Edit* : A couple of months after the canopy was installed, signs reading Mobil went up. But this Mobil station isn’t “really” a Mobil station ?

New Noisemaker and Lack of Privacy (July 2018)

A few weeks after the gas station opened I had a new foe: the tire inflation compressor.

This was installed approximately 6′ from the presumed property line (the cement retaining wall with the 4′ chain link fence on top). It was located where the bathroom entrances had been, with the bright light overhead, the one that lit up my yard. It was only noisy when people used it, it was true. However, this could be the dude at 2:30 a.m. filling up a dozen basketballs (??? Was this part of a convoluted excuse to the spouse he was cheating on ?) or the aggrieved person yelling at their bicycle’s busted inner tube in the afternoon or the sketchy dudes standing around having a long conversation in this area after they did their tire fill 24 hours a day. This part of the neighboring property is at the highest, so anyone at the tire inflation area could easily see into my yard, over the 4′ chainlink fence with the privacy cloth I hung up, and through my curtains if it they were open (very seldom now).

I had a work table set up outside my kitchen door, where I was painting all 256 fence pickets, and reglazing storm windows. I felt very uncomfortable being in my yard when people were standing on the other side of the fence.

Despite the City of London’s Noise Bylaw, which states:

” Prohibitions – deemed – Residential Area

2.4 At the specified times and clearly audible at a Point of Reception in a residential area:

Power Equipment – use – 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

(f) the sound caused by the use or operation of a lawnmower, chain-saw, leaf-blower, or any such noise generating tool or device that is clearly audible at Point of Reception in a Residential Area between 10:00 p.m. of any day and 7:00 a.m. of the next following day (or 9:00 a.m. if the following day is a Sunday).”

this fucking thing was used at all hours, usually by people who wanted to talk or yell before, during or after using it. I could hear it in my back room, I could hear it in my kitchen, I could hear it in my dining room, I could hear it in my powder room and most importantly I could hear it in my bedroom. The sound is a low frequency rumble that I could hear and feel. If I hung up a dozen different wind chimes, this would do nothing to neutralize or mask the sound. The late night discussions by the compressor particularly woke me up, as I was primed to be vigilant of trespassers in or near my property, too.

The gas station has a propane locker at the front and one of those bagged ice lockers. The location of the tire compressor could have been easily switched for the nice, quiet ice locker, I thought (ie an available electrical connection was already in place).

I called the City to inquire about the bylaws regarding the placement of the tire compressor. Apparently there were none. If I wanted to make a noise complaint, to instigate an investigation I had to jump through some hoops, then the city would send me a noise log, where I had to write down the time of each incident, with a description, then submit that to the city, and a Bylaw Enforcement Officer would come by to have a look. This was despite the bylaw already on the books !

I mean, a Bylaw Enforcement Officer could have come by, turned on the tire inflator and measured the sound. Then he or she could have come to my yard, and in my house, and had someone turn on the machine. It would be obvious that the location of this device would be an ongoing problem for my location. The tire inflator was accessible 24/7, not turned off between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.. Geez.

I suppose some people would argue that since I bought a house that was next door to a used car lot, with gas pumps, that I should have expected no privacy due to this, right ?

Let me tell you: at the used car lot, the tire compressor was in the garage, so I seldom heard it. I could sometimes hear their larger compressor for their mechanic’s air tools, but this was between 9:00 – 5:30 p.m.. People did not stand around in the parking lot at 3:00 a.m. having a fight over the phone, or yakking with their drunk pals, like they did in the summer of 2018. The car lot parked their inventory very tightly, with only narrow aisles between the cars. Sometimes people looked at the cars after hours. However – the cars created a solid wall by the chainlink fence. Cars were seldom moved on or off the lot after the lot was closed, so headlights shining in my windows would have only briefly occured in the shortest days of winter. Here’s an aerial photo from Google Earth that illustrates this well:

Screen Shot ArialBarts.png

Here’s a listing photo. See those cars parked ?


Goodbye darkness, my old friend…

The gas station opened at the beginning of July. There were big signs in the window and a portable sign thing. The hours were 5:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.. I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic, but thought that was better than 24 hours at least.

Almost immediately, people would park any old way in the lot, since nothing was demarcated. At night, when people parked nose in, facing the chainlink fence, their headlights shone right through the canvas, through my opaque curtains and into my kitchen and dining room. Fuck !

I read through the City of London’s bylaws. There was NOTHING that compelled a business next to a residence, let alone a late night business with traffic that came and went, to put up an opaque fence !

A canopy was put over the pump area. It had sort of potlights that shone downward. Except that due to the station’s higher elevation I could plainly see 8 of these bright lights from below. I could see these lights from my front step, I could see them out my kitchen and diningroom window. I could even see most of them from my bedroom, on the second floor, laying on my bed.

Then they installed a light near the property line, another high one that lit up half my backyard outside the kitchen. Its light was a blinding glare that made my eyes hurt, and obliterated me from clearly seeing anything in front of me. This was unwelcome. I liked to sit in my backyard, after dark, invisible. I liked seeing the fireflies. I also liked being unseen by the human creeps that roam after dark. It was safer.

A few weeks later the canopy was completed, now with bright back-lighting in white and blue. Even though this was close to Hamilton Rd. it was bright enough to light up my rooms that faced it, and cast strong shadows on the wall. Suddenly I was living next to a spaceship. Inexplicably, this panel of bright lighting mostly faced my house. Pegler is very short, with not much traffic on Trafalgar at the end of the street. What was the point of having oriented the lit canopy this way ? It made no sense.

London, being stuck in some kind of time warp, does not have ANY bylaws regulating lighting, light pollution or light infiltration. They do have a 4th draft of a light pollution proposal, as of March 2018:

The proposal is completely reasonable, except that it has not been passed. If you are in London, your asshole neighbour can shine floodlights in your window, and you have no legal recourse to do anything about this, except to ask them not to.

There is the concept of freedom of religion – that in this country (Canada) individuals have the right to observe and practice whatever religion they believe in, without government interference or control. There is also the concept of freedom FROM religion – which suggests that church and state are clearly separate, and that people have the right to not believe in or practice any religion at all. I wanted freedom FROM light – that the commercial neighbour could use and enjoy their lighting – as long as it did not negatively affect me, or my property.

Then the gas station’s sign announced their new hours: 24 hours !

Communication Breakdown

One day in the spring there was a guy in my backyard chipping away at the back wall of the gas station. At some point I went out and said hello, and said it was fine if he had to put up scaffolding or something, and that he could come and go through my back gate. In the back yard, next to the wall, there is a 36″ or so wide strip that belongs to them but isn’t fenced or otherwise marked.

No one spoke with me, or left a note in my mailbox advising that they would need to access the back of their building, which would mean they would be in my yard.

Since work was happening in this area I dug up any plants that might get crushed underfoot and moved them. I watched as the back wall was patched up. Over the years many of the cinderblocks had developed small holes. Some kind of small bird had colonized this, and there were many nests and bird apartments in this wall. I hoped that none of them got patched in.

There were a couple of big cracks in the wall that got sort of sewn together with rebar.

Part of the chain link fence adjacent to this strip got cut open and peeled back, so they could stucco the side of the building. This left a human sized gap that was easily accessible to my yard, that I really didn’t want. I piled up cinderblocks and pallets to block this off. I spoke with the factory to see if they intended to take down all the chainlink fence (no) and some guy hired by them patched up the hole.

One day there was a guy on a ladder painting the patched wall. I had hoped that to be neighbourly, since this wall was a big part of my yard, that perhaps someone might offer that I could pick the color ? I had even suggested this to one of the wall patch dudes. I would even BUY the paint. Nope – the wall was painted a blah grey color – which was better than brown or bright orange, it was true.

It seemed like the renovation was wrapping up. I had assumed that since this station was owned by Esso, that efforts would be made to make it like the other local Esso’s. These had grass and trees and shrubs planted around the perimeter. They also had tall fences, usually masonry, adjacent to any residential neighbours.

I spoke with the main guy I dealt with. I asked him if they were going to put up a fence. He sort of laughed and said no. I was confused. I assumed that there was a local bylaw that said there had to be one. He said the owner was coming the next day, in the afternoon and I could speak to him then. I had to work so I couldn’t. I had previously given the worker dudes my number, in case of emergency. I gave it to this guy, again, and asked him to have the owner call me, so I could talk to him about a fence.

No one ever called me.





Bonus (May – December 2018):

While major noisy work happened next door – ranging from hammer drills to jack hammers to earth movers and a couple of cranes – construction began on Hamilton Rd, from Egerton to approximately Chesley Streets.

This meant that the lanes on  Hamilton Rd were reduced, so seething drivers raged down my street. Many angry drivers tied up in traffic honked, swore, revved, turned up their awful music and fender benders and worse abounded. Dump trucks filled with earth and gravel also roared down my street, or sat noisily idling starting at 6 a.m. or so. Sidewalks on Hamilton Rd were torn up and the crosswalk light by the library on Sackville was gone. It was a big, noisy, dangerous mess.

Signs said this road improvement was supposed to happen between May – September.

What really happened was that by the first snow in November there still weren’t even sidewalks. If you needed to walk on Hamilton Rd, you could walk on a sloped, slightly gravelled ledge where the sidewalk had been, hoping you wouldn’t slip into the aggressive traffic only inches away. If you used a mobility scooter, wheelchair or pushed a stroller that was your bad luck. You had to go blocks out of your way only to discover that some streets like Trafalgar by the school were absolutely blocked to even foot traffic.

With the traffic light and crosswalk gone from Sackville, as a pedestrian you could either walk to Rectory or Egerton to use a safe crossing. Or you could dart across Hamilton Rd when it seemed safe, to scramble over cement barricades. When the road was more repaired and the lights put back up, drivers were now completely blind to these lights. I don’t know how many near misses there were. I don’t know how many times I pointed at the red light above as drivers tore through the crosswalk, with the walk signal on.

The parking lot at the factory next door was used to store large items used for whatever infrastructure thing they were doing, so there was a great deal of big sounds and vibration coming from that direction, too.

At some point temporary (I hope temporary) asphalt sidewalks were laid down in early December.

By October, after this had been going on since the beginning of May, new hairline cracks appeared in several of the walls I had repaired. Typically, these cracks happen if the joint  compound is put on too thick. Usually these cracks show themselves right away.

My walls had been fine in the 12 – 16 months since they were repaired, primed and painted. Then suddenly a bunch of these hairline cracks showed up on my the interior walls that faced an exterior wall.

Doors that had always opened and shut now wouldn’t close properly. Some wouldn’t close at all. These were doors adjacent to the exterior walls, close to the walls that had new cracks.

How could I prove what was happening ? who could I complain to ? John the carpenter planed the doors to make them fit again, which only took a few minutes, and I could fix the plaster and paint myself.

Did all the vibration from the combined construction cause this ?


More Creeps – June 2018

After the spring of 2018, that wasn’t – I was still wearing mittens in late April – summer suddenly happened. Full-on, full blast.

I don’t have AC, so a few days of heat makes the second floor pretty stuffy.

I was restlessly tossing and turning so I got up to have a drink. I stood in the kitchen mindlessly looking through the lace curtain as I drank my water. It was after 1:00 a.m..

Suddenly I saw a male head pop up over the top of the chainlink fence, behind my canvas screening. This was definitely not right ! I ran upstairs to look out the bedroom window, where I could see the now repaved parking lot next door. A guy was crawling through the sliding glass window next door. Then that guy came out a minute later carrying stuff. He ran to where the dumpster was, then dropped whatever he had taken over the chainlink fence into my yard, then went back in.

Suddenly it made sense why one of my smoke bushes had several broken branches !

I called the police, they came, the guy was long gone.

The next day I spoke to the renovation dudes, to let them know. They hadn’t even noticed anything was gone, but then realized they were missing chargers, batteries and a radio. Small potatoes but still.

One of the guys said this was the second or third break-in they’d had.

There had been one weekend, where one of the crew forgot to close a side door, and it was wide open – beckoning to all local crud. I watched it and went over after dark. I called out and poked my head inside. I wasn’t one of Charlie’s Angels ! I wasn’t a cop ! What I was doing was stupid. I shut the door, then told the crew when they were back.

Another time I heard a loud bang late at night. One of the doors was now open. This time I didn’t go over but I watched it for awhile. I didn’t see anyone coming or going. I closed the door the next day, and told the crew again. The last thing I wanted to deal with was a sketchy pop-up crack/theft party happening next door. The gas station building was made from cinderblocks, so at least it couldn’t get torched by accident or on purpose. I told the crew when they showed up next.


Heritage v.s. Renovation ?

What heritage is worth preserving ? What obligation does a conscientious renovator have to create less waste, and use what still functions ?

There are a couple of books in the London Library system about the history of the Hamilton Road area. The books are photocopied compilations of a free newspaper from this area, that was around in the 70’s and 80’s. There are archival photos and clippings from the London Free Press. While they are a little homemade feeling, the information in them is great, with everything from wedding photos to ghost stories to photos of businesses long gone. There is even a photo of my house – with a caption that claimed this was the original Pegler/Peglar farmhouse (which makes zero sense as this house is the same age as others on the street, late 1800’s). There had been the oldest surviving London residence adjacent to my backyard. This was the White Ox Inn, which had started as a single family residence in 1819, was abandoned then expropriated by the city in the 1830’s to become a cholera hospital, then it became a stagecoach stop (The White Ox Inn), then a single family home again(1900ish), then a fish and chip shop that burned down in the early 1980’s. This was located at 495 Hamilton Road, which is part of Enerzone’s parking lot now:

A photo from the early 20th c. Look, there’s my house in the background !


The Hamilton Road books did NOT have any photos of the gas station/used car lot. They did give a good idea of what this area was like for the last century or so.

Next door to my house, on the south side is a big factory type building that belongs to Enerzone, which manufactures industrial furnaces of some sort. Previously this building had been various different businesses, including a plastics manufacturer and a fruit and vegetable terminal. 22 Pegler had been a bakery for many decades. It is unclear from the archival information in the Hamilton Road book whether there had been other houses between my address (36) and 22, and if as the bakery grew it bought up the the neighbouring lots. By the 1950’s it became a large commercial bakery, which also did home deliveries. Obviously whoever lived in this house did not have an issue having non-residential neighbours.

I found a photo of my house from the 1940’s posted on FB, completely by accident. I contacted the poster, who sent me a couple of other photos. His grandmother lived here as a little girl. Here’s a photo from 1941:


Besides the multicolored paint on the porch post, and the wooden steps, and what looks to be the lilac bush – which still survives in that spot – I was interested in what had been next door, where the used car lot was. The house in the background looks the same age as the other houses on Hamilton Road, in this area. There’s a couple of oldsters, and a few youngsters, but most of the houses were built in the late 1800’s.

The design of the gas station building next door looks very 1950’s. It had the mechanics bay on one side, then the other side had the cash register, with a curved wall with a large picture window. The washrooms were tucked discreetly behind this. There were two pumps in the front, with no canopy. It was similar to this:


The outside of the building was covered in a new fangled building material. It was  porcelain enamel on sheets of steel. This was sold under many manufacturers names, including Lustron. Gardner Galleries on Hamilton and Rectory St. is the only surviving building in this area with a porcelain enamel exterior that I am aware of.

I watched as the crew next door tore off the white squares of this Lustron type material on the gas station building. A few landed in my yard and I kept them. This was definitely what it was. There were no signs of rust or other damage, except for how ruthlessly they were removed. For a building material exposed to the elements for 70 years this stuff was amazing. It was identical to the exterior of my 1950’s stove.

What was this replaced with ? Styrofoam with a thin layer of stucco.

I hated watching this destruction. It wasn’t MY building, the building had no heritage designation, and most people would consider gas station architecture to be worthless.

Where did these panels go ? In the dumpster.




Winter Into Spring 2018 – Right Next Door

One day in February I noticed a few vehicles parked next door, with people going in and out of the building. I wondered what was going to happen with the property ? My main concern was whether the building was going to be demolished. This would leave my backyard completely exposed to busy Hamilton Rd. I called the City, and there was no demolition permit issued as of that date. I did discover that if they tore down the building that they were under no obligation to put up a fence, that this would be my responsibility, which seemed unfair. I also wondered about my privacy – like if a multi-unit apartment building was built there, overlooking my yard.

A few weeks later some worker types appeared. Piles of debris began near the garage door. Of course I was watching for any interesting or useful salvage materials. I peeked in the windows when no one was there. The building was getting stripped. The workers weren’t there every day, but appeared sporadically which confused me. There might be intense work for three days then no work for a week or more ?

They left the doors open to the washrooms, when they were working. The 1950’s era station had separate men’s and women’s restrooms with doors outside. They had the same baby blue 4 x 4 ceramic tiles, exactly like the ones in the Nightmare Apartment ! These got smashed out in the first couple of days, the sinks and toilets needlessly broken and tossed on the refuse pile. This left the building with no bathrooms, so the worker dudes just pissed out the back door, as though no one could see them. I could clearly see them, through my backroom, kitchen, bedroom and dining room windows. Ugh. I kept my curtains closed. Several weeks later a porta john and a dumpster was brought to the site. I couldn’t believe it took that long.

I spoke to the worker dudes a couple of times, and they let me take a vintage transom lifter I had my eye on. Whatever was going on seemed fairly thorough, so I hoped for the best. My worst nightmare was a sketchy booze-can operation, or an otherwise troublesome neighbour. As it was a commercial lot on a busy street, I expected it would be some kind of business. I didn’t really care what it would be – as long as I wouldn’t be affected by what they were doing. I wasn’t enthusiastic about something like a Tim Horton’s drive-thru – although they did seem to make an effort to be decent neighbours, with high fencing for next door residences, plantings, and concealed dumpsters. I started looking more critically at drive thru fast food places, and how they were designed. They didn’t look terrible and were functional at least ?

Big noises started to happen in late March or so. I had done a little reading about former gas stations, and the negative effects of leaking underground gas storage tanks. I worried about this. They tore up the pavement for the entire lot, and dug out the storage tank that was there. I walked by several times to get a look, to see if there were obvious signs of corrosion. The tank looked newer than I expected, like it was fiberglass not metal, and seemed to be intact ? At some point construction fencing was put up around the site, but no dust cloth.

I felt too exposed, as there was only a 4′ chainlink fence dividing the properties. I hung up black mesh privacy screen, but discovered it was more like semi-sheer pantyhose. The hardware store sold long and narrow canvas drop cloths, like for a hallway. I bought several of those, installed grommets myself and hung those up. They were much better. They seemed to be made from cotton and maybe rayon fibers, so I knew that they would start to disintegrate in the sun, grow mold and otherwise deteriorate. They were still better than nothing.

The big noises woke me up almost every day, early. A different crew dug a giant pit, where I assumed a new underground gas storage tank would be located. Some garbage blew into my yard from next door, with a label addressed to something like “New Esso Station”. I wasn’t thrilled about living next to a potentially busiER gas station, but assumed as this was owned by a multinational corporation that it would follow safety standards, and corporate design principles, right ?

Right ?



Whoever owned the property never spoke with me, and the only information local residents had been given was a notice of application for a minor variance for a canopy built over the existing gas pump location. There was a meeting time and location, if anyone had concerns or objections. As far as I know, no one from the street attended.

I got a strange vibe from the crew installing the gas tank. They were friendly to me and said hello when I passed by, but I just felt like there was a subtext going on. They were professional contractor types, with special safety gear and a certain type of hardhat. I didn’t know anything about gas station construction. I wondered if there had been some bullshit story regarding my house – like it was going to get demolished, or the gas station owned it or who knows what ? What did I know ?




January 2018 – Next Door: Disappearing Car Lot ?

One day I walked by the car lot next door and noticed a sign that they were moving to a new location.

I was under the weather with something, so I didn’t pop in. I was shocked when the contents of the car lot, including all the mechanics garage equipment, and a lot full of cars were just gone, within the week. I had assumed their move would happen in a couple of months.

I had gotten along okay with the guys next door, and felt there was some mutual respect – that we both kept an eye out for the normal goings on. I felt concerned about their sudden absence. The station looked bleak emptied out. They left the lights on to show there was nothing to steal, I guess ?


There’s my house in the background, overlooking those vintage chrome pumps, and the sea of asphalt. The used car lot had been there since the early 80’s. Now what ?