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:
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.