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Gas stations in Thessalon, Desbarats and Heyden have closed. Here's why

Tuesday, May 06, 2014   by: Kenneth Armstrong

Regulations imposed by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) has directly resulted in at least four small-town or rural gas stations closing down in recent months, says Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha.

Gas stations in Desbarats, Thessalon and Heyden were being inspected and forced to perform repairs or upgrades, which in some cases cost more than what the gas station makes in revenue for a year, said Mantha.

"It’s not a huge money-making venture for these people, some of them are to accompany maybe a gift shop that they have or even a service station,” said Mantha.

To make matters worse, these stations have been forced to shut the pumps down just prior to the busy spring and summer tourist seasons.

In addition to the cost of the repairs or upgrades, the TSSA was forcing the stations to comply to those orders in an unrealistic timeframe, as few as 30 days, said Mantha.

In many cases the certified fuels contractors who do the work were not able to do the work for 6-8 months, as a result many stations have been deemed non-compliant and unable to purchase fuel from suppliers, causing the closures, said Mantha.

Mantha likens the situation to the provincial goverment reaction from the water crisis in Walkerton, where decisions were made in Southern Ontario and applied across the province, not taking into consideration the effects on Northern Ontario.

Wilson Lee, director of stakeholder relations for TSSA, said the organization’s primary concern is public and environmental safety.

Lee said he agrees the TSSA may need to take a different approach to balance safety with the realities of small business owners in Northern Ontario and hopes an adjustment will be made within the coming days, which may allow stations to reopen.

“What’s becoming clearer is that our degree of flexibility isn’t addressing the very specific challenges in the north, so we are very actively considering options to apply a bit more flexibility,” said Lee.

Because of an administrative error, inspections at many of these smaller gas stations were overlooked for years, said Lee.

“We didn’t complete all the inspections on the cycle we should have, which is typically once every 3 years. we have since caught up and all of the facilities are now up-to-date in their inspections,” said Lee.

“We need to work with these owner/operators to figure out the best way to reach compliance in terms of balancing the realities that they have to deal with with the responsibilities that we have enforcing regulations,” said Lee.

It’s a matter of the town's survival for Thessalon resident Darlene McColman, who was interviewed in January, and said tourists who turn off the highway to shop in town may drive past now that the town’s only gas station has shut down the pumps.

(PHOTO: Gas pump is seen padlocked January 30 2014 at the Lakeview Gas Bar & Convenience Store in Thessalon, Ontario. SooToday.com/Kenneth Armstrong)

Comments
42
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
yukon 9970 5/6/2014 9:12:29 AM Report

too bad tssa wouldnt go to our new
school,im sure there is unlicensed socalled tradesman from southern ont. there
justsomeguy 5/6/2014 9:15:59 AM Report

Here's another example of NDP grand standing trying to get people riled up over the 'evil Southern Ontario against the North' to make it SEEM like the NDP are all for the north.
The TSSA is located in the south because that's where Queen's Park and the Ministry are located - in the capital of Ontario. Additionally, many gas stations in Southern Ontario are facing the same fate - there are many mom & pop businesses in the many small farming communities in the south too. This is a crappy move across ALL of Ontario.
So the NDP is upset with these closures - where they update at the lack of safety inspections over the previous years, did they turn a blind eye, or did they have no idea?
justsomeguy 5/6/2014 9:17:10 AM Report

If the NDP cares so much about the north and has their finger on the pulse of the north then why did Horwath choose to begin her compaigning in *gasp* Toronto along with all the other parties?
justsomeguy 5/6/2014 9:17:58 AM Report

Yukon - careful, they would also find unlicensed local tradespeople too.
B Boy 5/6/2014 9:30:32 AM Report

The TSSA contracts out their safety inspections to the lowest bidder and most often doesn't even attend the locations themselves.

Let's face it though, there have been scores of serious accidents and deaths possibly due to the lack of proper inspections over the years.
Sam C 5/6/2014 9:35:08 AM Report

TSSA may be headquartered in the south, but there are local inspectors... They check everything from gas pumps to elevators to amusement rides. The issue isn't the inspectors themselves, nor the regulations they are enforcing: these are intended to prevent situations, as has happened in the past, where underground tanks have leaked thousands of litres of gasoline into the ground. The problem is the timeframe for the repairs, and the fees paid for repeated inspections.

Gas station owners do not make much on the fuel they sell, which is why almost all also have a convenience store or other source of income.

The rural stations that are open have switched to above-ground storage tanks. These aren't cheap, but the bigger cost is soil testing and remediation, if it is needed.
B Boy 5/6/2014 9:42:51 AM Report

I think it was just last year or the previous year a part fell off one of those old midway rides and struck a young girl in the head at the peewee parking lot?

We can't put profits over safety.

theprotector 5/6/2014 9:49:46 AM Report

nor do they have the volume of even the small farm communities in the south. Its more of a service to the small areas up here than it is a profit making venture. It helps to bring people in...take a momment and maybe stop for lunch, buy some refreshments, say "hey this is nice here, any camp grounds around"
I suggest that there be support via northern ontairo business grants avail to those that wish to continue their business.
brittz 5/6/2014 9:52:23 AM Report

The administrative error was that they turned a blind eye to inspections of business owned by "friends" and waited until those businesses changed hands before shutting them down. Funny how something can be deemed safe until its sold, then suddenly its not safe. I say weed out the dishonest local inspectors and pay out the owners for the businesses they have lost. Nobody cares about the little guy anymore!
Gater 5/6/2014 9:52:47 AM Report

While its great someone is trying to help these small gas stations out.
One really has to wonder where these caring politicians where MONTHS ago when they closed some of these stations??? Its very difficult to believe they are sincere in their efforts..
OH Election June 12th
MYPOINT 5/6/2014 9:54:36 AM Report

is as follows ...

There are rules that apply across the entire Province BUT the people making those rules live in SOUTHERN Ontario. Sure we have a representative ( David O. ) who is supposed to represent our area but he is only one tiny weenie little UNHEARD voice in the crowd down that way and most of the Government will not take the time to even listen to him at all.

I think it is fair to say that it is very strange and probably election-related that the people in charge of regulating these gas stations suddenly and almost 'miraculously' found that there are some in this area ( and probably other areas also) that are not up to code. The strangest thing about all of this is that the people responsible for ensuring that these stations were checked every 3 years or so did not do their jobs. To be blunt, because those people did not do their jobs, there are now a few small businesses that are closed down at the beginning of the busiest periods of the year. This will hit those small places that only have one gas station in the entire town.

This is slanderous in my humble opinion!

As usual, your views may differ :)
B Boy 5/6/2014 10:05:04 AM Report

@the protector - I disagree and would say that there are easily as many small communities with small gas stations in the south as there are in the north. There are so many farm roads, concessions, side roads, etc. Just take a trip up highway 6 to Tobermory - only one small highway and you'll get an idea.

These little communties rely on tourism too. There are RV parks, naturalist resorts, ranches that are pretty far from city centres on small rural roads that this is impacting too.

The fact is, this has been happening for months but the NDP has mostly kept their mouths shut until they could figure out a win to put a south vs north spin on it to manipulate it enough for getting votes.
ThinkAgain 5/6/2014 10:13:03 AM Report

Just think we had all 3 gas stations (intersection of 2nd line & Korah Road) The Shell, Esso and Petro Can, all with service bays, there all gone yet there are twice as many cars today.

I can't think of any gas station that has a service bay or any type of side business anymore.

Cars today are more efficient, travel farther its not surprising. I travel to Sudbury and never stop in those towns for any reason.
Prrrrrrr 5/6/2014 10:20:13 AM Report

justsomeguy GRANSTANDING??? *shaking my head*


There has to be a grant to help with the upgrades and if there isn't they better make one...these gas stations are of great service to the local people of these small towns.
justsomeguy 5/6/2014 10:26:11 AM Report

@ Prrrrrrr: Yes GRANDSTANDING
As per Mirriam-Webster - "behaviour that is intended to get public attention and approval". How it this not grandstanding? The NDP are notorious for it.
Sam C 5/6/2014 10:28:10 AM Report

ThinkAgain... That is certainly the case. There are several derelict gas stations and motels on 17 and 69, needed in the days when cars got 12 mpg and it was work to drive them. In the 50s and 60s it was rare for a family to drive from here to Toronto in one shot.
justsomeguy 5/6/2014 10:36:04 AM Report

@ samc & thinkagain - those are good points. Perhaps these are businesses that have been propped up and really are redundant that are lucky to have not closed years ago.

In the winter, often the only vehicles I see at some of these stations are snow machines.
wayne 5/6/2014 10:49:34 AM Report

Yes, alot of this is true about gas stations, but above ground gas tanks are more dangerous.true this is about polictics. the relationship between northern and southern ontario. northern ont. has nothing in common with southern ont. northern ont ,there isnt alot of jobs,northern ont there isnt half the amount of people/different cultures, northern ont,we are the backbone of this province, but no one listens to us or wants to hear what we have to say because we live in the north.these "mom and pop" operations are the "life line" that sustains northern communities,we dont have a gas station on every corner like in southern ont.if it was'nt for these gas stations/stores in our northern townships people would have to drive for miles for basic needs.this is unacceptable for todays society. this government needs to stop trying to pull the wool over our heads and stand up for the people no matter what class they fall into.make programs accessible and realistic and affordable
justsomeguy 5/6/2014 10:55:20 AM Report

Wayne - I appreciate your points wich make sence, but saying that Northern Ontario is the backbone of the province means that none of Ontario could stand on it's own without the north. I disagree - the north & south need each other. They need our resources and we need their money.
Mr. Poster 5/6/2014 11:33:39 AM Report

I am still waiting to hear what the NDP would do about all of our problems. They are good at pointing out problems but come up short on a solution. It is easy to be critical and promise the moon when you know darn well you will never form a government. Propping up the Liberals like they did for so long is also going to cost the NDP any hope of even a minority.
Pakadeva 5/6/2014 11:47:30 AM Report

Closing so many small gas stations without giving them sufficient time & ideas of funding, to upgrade. There are so many small communities in then north that now have to drive even further to get gas & burn a good chunk of it getting back home again...let's make it even harder for the north to survive...is what I see!
ShawnM 5/6/2014 11:51:19 AM Report

Well there are several valid reason as to why stations are needed along the way. Just because you can drive from the Sault to Sudbury is fine, but people who live in these communities now have to drive km down the road to another town just to fill up, and then drive back.

One example is the OPP in Thessalon, since there is no more station I have noticed they have been filling up in Bruce mines. Thats about a 15 min trip each way, when there used to be one only 2 or 3 minutes away from a station.
frnlak 5/6/2014 11:55:26 AM Report

So carry a couple of five gallon cans of gas in the trunk of your car in the summer heat. Thats safe. Dalton tried this with propane untill people started to stock pile and then backtracked because of the safety factor. I do have to agree that southern Ontario politics are done with no reguard to the north.
justsomeguy 5/6/2014 12:03:05 PM Report

If you read some snow machine & fishing forums you'll find that this is impacting all of Ontario, not just the north. In fact, people have been complaining about the moves the TSSA has been making for months but it just hasn't impacted the north until recently. They've actually been enforcing more in the south until recently. This is a case of the government establishing a non-government, not-for-profit organization that has no real government accountabilty that is running rampant. This isn't just a northern problem.
KFM 5/6/2014 12:18:14 PM Report

These small busnesses are hit hard by the TSSA for what I can see is the TSSA's incompotence in doing the inspections in a timely manner. Just another example of government regulator going way overboard on regulating something else. Goes hand in hand with The College of Trades. Another un needed body that is payed for by the people who they supposadly are protecting. Goverment B.S. Downloading at its worst!
crazyhick 5/6/2014 12:22:21 PM Report

Add SEARCHMONT to the list! I would imagine their current store situation was also related as they didn't provide gas for months prior to closing down completely. This station has impacted the snowmachine trail in the area as it was a connecting stop to re-fuel to complete the trail, with it gone riders need to bring fuel cans with them to make the trip, just to name one economic impact to the local area.
Louis 5/6/2014 1:46:25 PM Report

I feel Brittz comment is quite accurate

"The administrative error was that they turned a blind eye to inspections of business owned by "friends" and waited until those businesses changed hands before shutting them down. Funny how something can be deemed safe until its sold, then suddenly its not safe. I say weed out the dishonest local inspectors and pay out the owners for the businesses they have lost. Nobody cares about the little guy anymore!"


And this is a shame! Now they are hoping to put something in place so the small businesses can reopen? Definitely too late for that, now that the owners have potentially LOST the business altogether perhaps a NEW owner can reopen, how sad!

The community of Heyden has lost its convenience store, restaurant, gas station and school this year, it really is a shame!
joe833 5/6/2014 2:04:41 PM Report

And our government is working for us eh! Ya, right. We need to take a stand on some of these so called do good, help us poor unknowing souls type of regulations. get rid of a lot of so called safety crap and start teaching some common sense. This country is down the tubes if someone doesn't take that stand. How stupid is it when they force gas stations to close unreasonably because of a rule some brain dead guy sitting in an office wrote up to protect us! Man, give me a break.
Gater 5/6/2014 2:46:46 PM Report

After reading these comments. I have come to wonder WHAT ESSO has done to help these little independents in these small towns.
I believe this company attained a top 50 award again this past year..
CTgasman 5/6/2014 3:26:22 PM Report

I haven't read all of the comments because so many are a bit ridiculous. But here are a couple of misleading statements I saw.

I do not believe the TSSA ever contracts out safety inspections to the lowest bidder and I would think it would be very difficult to find a gas station without a side business "ThinkAgain" seems to believe that they don't exist anymore.
ThinkAgain 5/6/2014 4:02:27 PM Report

CTgasman 5/6/2014 3:26:22 PMReport

I would think it would be very difficult to find a gas station without a side business "ThinkAgain" seems to believe that they don't exist anymore.

I'm not misleading anyone, I simply stated: "I can't think of any gas station that has a service bay or any type of side business anymore."
Most of them have closed including Husky North, the rest are self serve.
ThinkAgain 5/6/2014 4:05:29 PM Report

Even the Beaver on Korah Road closed the car wash, opps sorry Macs on 2nd line is about the only one in the westend, not sure about the east end.

Not even sure where to find air if you have a low tire
Kat1616 5/6/2014 4:28:39 PM Report

I miss Bud Wildman at least he got the job done and he was for the little guy in northern Ontario
Gater 5/6/2014 4:28:47 PM Report

The good old days in Thessalon there where 3 gas stations/garages .They pumped the fuel checked oil levels and remember this they washed your windshield..
The only place I think that still washes your windshield is the gas station @ Pancake bay and they would tell you to go onside and get a FREE coffee.. The good old days
moose23 5/6/2014 4:58:55 PM Report

What is going to happen to the underground fuel tanks at these locations? I assume they are all underground. Are they pumped out? In Heyden there are a few folks that live nearby and they have ground wells most certainly...
rockbanger 5/6/2014 7:38:10 PM Report

TSSA is a private company contracted by the government of Ontario.

This company is an example of pay for services....
Companies pay and then the TSSA does not show up and perform there services they should.

To prove this go to the coming carnival and look at as many fasteners (nuts, bolts & pins) on the rides that you can see and ask are do these fasteners look questionable... If these fasteners are on rides for amusement that hold our loved ones they should only look new and competent.

TSSA is a joke.

Laurie39 5/7/2014 12:58:33 AM Report

What a joke this is. My husband & I are the owners of the Heyden Esso that the TSSA successfully shut down in January and now they are saying that they may have to re visit some of the sights and possibly give the owners an extention YA RIGHT! It's too frickin LATE! We are done! We had a great Restaurant and store on sight and now because of the inability to serve gas we are completely shut down and are in debt for thousands & thousands of dollars. All because the TSSA can show up and shut us down without justification. We did all the tests they asked costing us $5,000 to prove that there was NO environmental threat but yet they still found something to get us with. It's a crying shame that they can put hard working decent people like ourselves out of business never caring for one second that we have 4 kids and a home to look after. I can't begin to explain to people how this Government agency has ruined our lives. Thanks Matt Naslovar your a real piece of work!
Alystr 5/7/2014 1:35:18 AM Report

Wow, going after the people making the least amount of money, how shocking. What happened to Canada? Oh right, the shitty government.
1-elvis 5/7/2014 10:25:42 AM Report

This is so much bull! are government is something . Why for now can't they set up the gas tanks above ground. Till they clean up what ever.

like you see at Garden river, Goulais River and others so there is gas for the town,s.

This is are government MP's for you doing nothing as always .
ti-guy 5/7/2014 2:46:11 PM Report

@justsomeguy
yeah those lowdown NDP, it's all their fault!....wow....
LAWL 5/8/2014 10:20:12 AM Report

I work in the trades and the TSSA does not sub out their inspectors. They are TSSA employees.

TSSA is part of a larger scheme by the government to keep you safe.

In Ontario, The Ontario College Of Trades was created to keep you even more safe. Their inspectors have authority to come into your business or home and shut you down if you do not follow their specific rules. They have authority over every Red Seal trade from barbers to plumbers.

The ESA is the electrical authority and they keep an eye out for scary electricians. They have the authority to shut your power off if you do not comply with their rules and regulations.
You can't refuse their protection

In the end, there will be no mom and pa shops anywhere. Only corporate owned stores.

These agencies come in, do some tests and then shut you down. The government pays to get the mess cleaned up and the tax payers foot the bill. Two years later the property owner is bankrupt and corporations take the property for pennies on the dollar.

But at least we are safe.
joe833 5/8/2014 7:20:51 PM Report

Just get rid of the bastards( TSSA). We have enough damn trouble in this country without so their so called help and safety crap.
Comments
42
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