Edmonton

Abandoned gas station sites target for task force

The city has set up a task force to look into how contaminated sites left by gas stations could be cleaned up.
Coun. Ben Henderson heads up a city task force looking at how abandoned gas station sites can best be cleaned up. ((CBC))
The city has set up a task force to look into how contaminated sites left by gas stations could be cleaned up.

There are dozens of such sites around the city where owners opt to pay the property tax rather than go to the expense of cleaning them up to be sold, said Coun. Ben Henderson, who heads the task force.

"I think the end goal is — has to be — getting these stations cleaned up and doing that in a way that gets them back on the table without the city necessarily being the one that foots the bill for that," he said.

"You know, I think, if we came to the table right now and the city said: 'OK we're going to clean all these up,' we could do it, but I don't think that is an acceptable solution to anyone."

The committee will consider whether more pressure needs to be exerted on the land owner or the province to ensure the cleanup happens, Henderson said. 

At the empty site of a former Esso station on Whyte Avenue, Henderson told CBC News the abandoned properties represent a missed opportunity for development.

"I think the fact that we are seeing pipes in the ground here suggests there is slow remediation going on, but that could be a 10- to 15-year process," he said.

The committee will submit its report to council in July.