Resident Warren Welter’s idea for a temporary banner at the site of the burned and boarded up former 7-Eleven store on the Trans-Canada Highway apparently won’t be necessary.
Welter submitted an image of a “temporary eyesore” banner in response to Salmon Arm council’s decision to write to Imperial Oil and 7-Eleven to try to get the site cleaned up prior to the tourist season.
Welter wrote: “My temporary construction barricade banner suggestion may not be in line with an approved beautification effort of Downtown Salmon Arm; however, it will bring a smile to those travelling through town until something is done to improve the current eyesore.”
At council’s April 8 meeting, Coun. Chad Eliason responded.
“I like it, I’d like to put it up, but have we had any response back from 7-Eleven or Imperial Oil,” asked Eliason.
Mayor Alan Harrison said he received a response and had spoken to Victor Vrsnik with 7-Eleven’s corporate affairs department.
“We had a very productive conversation with him,” said Harrison.
He said Vrsnik explained 7-Eleven leases the property from Imperial Oil and, just prior to their lease running out, the building burned down. It is now working with Imperial Oil, “and feel they’re very close to demolition of the building,” said the mayor.
Harrison said Vrsnik assured him demolition would be done before the May long weekend.
“We’re impressed with him,” Harrison said, noting he thinks Vrsnik caught wind via social media of Salmon Arm residents’ unhappiness with the look of the site.
The building has been boarded up since Aug. 24 of last year, when fire erupted after a vehicle drove into the front of the store.
“An empty lot will look a lot better than what’s there presently,” Harrison said after the council meeting. “It’s a prime piece of real estate on the Trans-Canada Highway with great exposure.”
Harrison added 7-Eleven is interested in relocating in the city, but is not revealing publicly where yet.
“They’re very interested in returning to Salmon Arm. Salmon Arm is a good location for them.”
Regarding the Aug. 24 fire, Kenneth Robert Laforge is facing charges including arson damaging property, arson in relation to inhabited property and mischief $5,000 or under. A preliminary hearing is set for provincial court in Salmon Arm beginning Sept. 30.