Quadra Island is feeling the effects of the post-pandemic labour shortage, after its only gas station closed when their last worker quit.
While it has now reopened, customers pulled up to the Gas N Go on Heriot Bay Road yesterday (July 16th) to find signs taped to the pumps stating the station was closed due to ‘terrible ownership and management’.
A sign posted on the front door now says temporary hours of operation are 7:00 am until 2:00 pm.
The area’s director with the Strathcona Regional District, Jim Abram, says closing the station poses a ‘huge impact’ on the community, especially during peak season.
“We have one gas station that dispenses gas and propane,” he explains. “We have 3000 people on the Island, and then we have probably a couple thousand part-time residents coming to the Island, and then we have another three or four thousand tourists coming.”
With this in mind, Abram says drivers need fuel. He says the Island is 30-miles long, which means drivers consume ‘a lot of fuel’ driving around going to different recreational spots.
Besides the Gas N Go on Quadra Island, the nearest station is a ferry ride away. But Abram notes going to Campbell River to fill up isn’t a ‘viable option’.
“Every time you go over to Campbell River, you’re going to pay 25 and 40 bucks to come back on the ferry, which is added to the cost of your fuel,” he says, adding that issues at the Gas N Go will discourage people from visiting Quadra Island.
Plus, it makes the job harder for emergency crews, Abram says.
“We have four RCMP members, they all drive gas vehicles. We have I don’t know how many fire people, probably a couple dozen people altogether. They all drive gas vehicles, or most of them. And paramedics and ambulance people, they’re all driving gas vehicles.”
He continues, “What are they going to do to get to work? They have to be able to buy fuel, and if they can’t buy fuel, then what are they going to do… take time out of their day, when they’re on duty, to run over to [Campbell River]?”
Abram says he’s ‘not pleased’ with who’s running the gas station, with the stories he has heard over the past 20 years from the ‘very hardworking’ manager only amplifying his opinion.
“I left in May,” former manager Keri Smith tells My Campbell River Now. She says she needed to put herself first and decided to take a step back from managing the gas station, general store, and propane pumping station.
“I know that might make me sound a little bit selfish, but it’s a pretty demanding job,” Smith explains. “At the end of the day, I just had to decide if this is worth my mental health, my family, and my relationship. The choice was to put us first.”
While Smith worked there for nearly two decades, she says she ‘can’t speak’ on anything that has happened after she left, however, she did say, “I do think the kids were pretty unhappy with the support that they were given.”
This Gas N Go location is owned by Wayne Proctor, who runs over 20 other stations across Vancouver Island. Proctor confirmed with CBC that staff did in fact walkout yesterday morning, calling the posted signs ‘slanderous’. He said management treats staff ‘very well’ and pays competitively.