BROLLY SQUARE was officially opened May 26 in downtown Terrace with speeches, music and refreshments.
The project by the Greater Terrace Beautification Society turned what had been a years-long, neglected, fenced off and weedy former gas station site on the corner of Emerson and Lakelse into a brick square with planters and decorative umbrella art pieces.
Last occupied by an Esso service station, the Imperial Oil-owned corner was fenced off and the buildings taken down when the service station closed.
Known as a brownfield site because of its former gas station use, Imperial has had pollution monitoring equipment placed underground while waiting for time and nature to take care of contaminants before the property can be used for another purpose.
Initial attempts by the city to work with Imperial Oil to develop a usable space were rebuffed, city official Marvin Kwiatkowski told those who attended the May 26 opening.
“We didn’t have a lot of success dealing with Esso on our own,” explained Kwiatkowski. “That’s when we decided a grassroots approach would be best.”
That opened the door for an approach by the beautification society, which gradually worked out a plan with Imperial Oil.
The nature of the remediation work, for example, meant there could be no grass at the site.
Imperial Oil did agree to the use of bricks because they can be easily moved if needed.
“Everything on that site is temporary. That was key to the project,” said former beautification society president Chris Hansen.
“He ran out of reasons to say no,” said Hansen of dealings with an oil company executive.
The beautification society now has a five-year lease on the site but is paying no money and Imperial is paying the property taxes.
Hansen noted that the community maintained good relations with Imperial Oil, something that hasn’t always been possible with municipalities and oil companies elsewhere when dealing with former gas station locations.
She said a how-to manual of how to reclaim brownfield sites has been produced based on the beautification society’s experience.