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Feb 13,2009 The Now News

Published: Friday, February 13, 2009

An Esso gas station operator says he saw one-third of his business vanish due to a newly raised median, and the City of Port Moody did "nothing" to notify him it was coming.

At Tuesday's council meeting, members reviewed the decision to eliminate left-turn access into the Esso station on Ioco Road at Barnet Highway. Construction on the road started last year, and it was widened to six lanes with raised medians in August. As a result, drivers can no longer access the Esso on the east side of Ioco just north of Barnet via left-hand turn.

According to a report prepared by Eugene Wat, the city's director of engineering and operations, the intersection of Barnet and Ioco has the highest amount of collisions in the city with an average of 73 accidents per year from 2004 to 2006.

Now that the road has been widened, a driver turning left into the service station has to cross three opposing traffic lanes. Thus, the driver's ability to determine adequate gaps is limited and his or her sightline is obscured by the curve of the road, the report said.

To notify the landowners of the impending changes to the road, the city sent a letter dated April 30, 2007.

Wat's report maintains that city staff received no formal response.

But the letter, addressed to Imperial Oil's head office in Toronto, was never sent to Esso station operator Channi Makkar.

"We received nothing from the city," Makkar said. "We got a verbal statement from a traffic engineer. Also, one city councillor came by and mentioned it to me, but I don't remember which one."

He added these road improvements have reduced his business by 35 per cent since August, as many drivers are no longer able to enter the Esso station.

Despite the loss in revenue, it was the method of communication that had council sympathizing. Coun. Gerry Nuttall and Mayor Joe Trasolini were both disappointed by the method of contact used to notify the station operators.

"You said you had spoken with landowners, but I understand you just sent a letter," Nuttall said to Wat.

"We sent a letter to Imperial Oil, and to the operator at that site," Wat responded.

Trasolini then chimed in.

"I'm not happy with the way we contacted the service station," he said. "I thought there would be meetings. I've since been approached by the service station operators and they have told me they feel let down."

Trasolini said people at the service station were failed by both council and city engineers.

"I think they deserve to have a meeting with city hall," Trasolini said. "And in the end, council is criticized."

Coun. Meghan Lahti agreed.

"Council gave direction that they were to consult and let these people know," she said. "When we give direction to consult, we don't just give direction to send a letter."

Despite the disputed correspondence, Makkar said, "of course" he would have appreciated a meeting with city representatives.

"I'm going to council to explain my point of view. Then I will get my meeting," Makkar said.

Both Trasolini and Nuttall voted against a review of the decision.

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