Photo by spiralstares — Shuttered gas station in Chinatown, Vancouver.
Having grown up in Vancouver, one pattern that has become fairly obvious is that gas stations are increasingly fewer and far between. They retain a toe-hold in East and South Vancouver, but further north in the City, in the neighbourhoods I’m most familiar with like Mount Pleasant, Fairview and Little Mountain, I can probably name just as many former gas stations as I can ones that are still around.
That said, perhaps owing to the condensed distances that characterize Vancouver’s urban fabric due to the lack of freeway, gas stations still aren’t exactly uncommon, per se — it’s just that there are fewer than there were before. I can still name one on every major street between my house and Burnaby to the east, and a few more between me and the ocean to the west.
When I asked Google about this, I stumbled upon an article from the Washington Post from last month, which touches on how this phenomenon is affecting various places in the US. I hadn’t really thought much about whether and how this might be happening in Vancouver’s suburbs. The logic seems similar: in places and times where land is scarce and demand is high, the only gas stations that survive are the ones that are positioned to do well, and their economics have been changing as well. It is interesting for me to realize that this was not a trend unique to Vancouver; but like all continent-wide events, probably looks slightly different on the ground.
Some interesting quotes:
[…G]as stations have been vanishing in cities like New York and downtown Washington for 20 years, as flourishing real estate values outstripped gas profits. But industry experts say more recent changes in the retail gas business have added to station owners’ willingness to sell.
As wholesale fuel prices have risen, station owners have cut their own gas profit margins to keep customers, industry experts said. That has left them relying more on revenue from convenience stores, carwashes and repair bays — moneymakers that stations on smaller parcels in cities and inner suburbs often can’t accommodate.
The number of gas stations also has declined nationwide as sales have dropped because of more fuel-efficient vehicles, the economic slump, and demographic trends among young adults and aging baby boomers who are driving less, industry experts say. Nationwide, the number of gas stations has dropped from about 170,000 in 2002 to 156,065 in 2012, according to National Petroleum News.
[…] George Kavadoy said rising costs for taxes, labor and environmental compliance took a toll on his BP station […]. Meanwhile, he said, gas sales dropped while his land value skyrocketed. Property tax records for 2012 listed the assessed value of the gas station property at $2.2 million, up from $582,000 in 1999. The station closed in August, and Kavadoy said he recently signed a 20-year lease with TD Bank to build on the site.
[…L]ocal officials say making more efficient use of land near Metrorail stations jibes with long-term plans to allow areas like Bethesda and Arlington to accommodate population and economic growth without adding to traffic congestion.
“When you’re trying to promote walkability and an urban environment, I don’t think gas stations are really viewed as an urban amenity,” said Robert Kronenberg, the Montgomery County planning department’s acting area chief for Bethesda and Silver Spring inside the Capital Beltway.
I was lamenting the other day that I lack the vocabulary to describe music at a high level. This video totally hits the spot for that. Now I feel like I have to look for some stuff by Chilly Gonzales, I’d never heard of him!
It’s available on shirts and prints and stuff and it’s really neat!
Mona Hatoum - Suspended, 2011
In her installation titled Suspended, a room full of swings initially evokes a playful atmosphere but, upon closer inspection, Hatoum has placed a randomly chosen map on each swing, representing the precariousness of war and randomness of its victims. [collabcubed]
The person in my life for whom this is for, knows who they are.
I rather enjoy this photorealistic fail whale. Magritte-esque.
(via Geek Art Gallery: Link Round-Up: February 12, 2013, from deviantart user *ka-92)
I'm the One That's Cool - The Guild / ♫
Somebody said the word “humblebrag” in a comment and I’ve been humming this all. day. long.
Here’s something I don’t get to blog about a lot — the intersection between modern dance and transit, with lots of love for the “sidewalk ballet” made up of city life in general. This 3-minute teaser has me wishing I were in San Francisco to see this performed in person!
KT Nelson’s work, Transit proposes a whacky chaotic urban density, using transportation as a central working image. Transit celebrates the complex mix of low and high technologies—walking, bicycling and high-speed transport, where the individual is not alone and alienated, but communing with others to creating a lively human landscape. Nelson collaborated with welder Max Chen who designed several bicycles for this project.
I also found an interview with Max Chen, the designer of the bicycles used.