A sign on the door of the former location of The Donair Shop at 1243 Esquimalt Rd. The building was sold to the municipality who plan to tear it down and build an interim parking lot. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Local businesses forced out in Esquimalt Township’s purchase of building

Esquimalt Road property will serve as parking lot until Town Centre plan confirmed for site

At a table just inside the door of Bring and Buy Books in Esquimalt, Jack Romphf is perched in the same seat he takes every day to visit his friend and owner of the shop, Ray Kennedy.

He occasionally leaves with a book, but mostly he comes to chat with Kennedy and watch through the world go by through the window at 1241 Esquimalt Rd.

“I’m in this store once a day,” Romphf said. “This is where all the problems of the world are solved.”

At the end of May, he’ll have to find a new place to sit, as Kennedy is closing Bring and Buy, the used bookstore he has owned and operated since 1999.

The building – rife with asbestos and in need of much work to be brought up to code – sat on the market for six years, never entertaining a solid offer. Kennedy even had a buyer lined up for the business, as he started to think about retiring. On the day he decided to sell, the Township came knocking to say they’d purchased the land and would demolish the building.

“I was going to buy it and run it the exact same way for another 10 years,” said Cliff Worth, adding for the community’s less fortunate, Bring and Buy is a place where they can still get a DVD for $2 or a book to own, instead of borrowing from the library.

The 73-year-old building at the corner of Esquimalt Road and Park Place has a long history of serving the Township. A flower shop has operated there, as well as a hardware store, a grocery store and a consignment clothing retailer. There was even a gas station on the site at one time.

For now, it will turn into an interim parking lot. After that the site’s future remains unclear.

RELATED: Esquimalt Town Centre development is growing

Mayor Barb Desjardins said preparation of the lot across Park Place behind the town hall – the future site of the Esquimalt town centre – removed close to 40 parking stalls.

“We have heard from residents the difficulty in getting both to the library as well as to town hall because of the lack of parking,” she said. “So until the parkades and the Esquimalt Town Square are done, that will continue to be a challenge.”

The old building has residential units on the second floor, and Desjardins confirmed the tenants there will be displaced, in a community already dealing with an affordable housing shortage.

Romphf said the used bookstore, run by a new owner, should be grandfathered back in when retail units are developed, but he doesn’t believe that fits the Township’s vision.“This community needs this kind of bookstore.”

In the Facebook group Esquimalt Community Connection, many have expressed their disappointment in losing the shop.

“I know [second hand bookstores are] becoming a thing of the past but so is my elderly mom,” wrote Deb D’Arcy. “She is not interested in reading books on her iPad, she is old school and still has the need to feel the book in her hand.”

In 2017, a new owner purchased The Donair Shop, a 30-year-old business at 1243 Esquimalt Rd. previously run by the Dunahee family. Kennedy said the new owner bought with the understanding he had at least a year to operate there, but now, after closing at this location, he’s considering going mobile and turning The Donair Shop into a food truck.

An employee next door at Crow’s Nest (1237-1239 Esquimalt Rd.), a second-hand furniture for the past five years, said they’re just taking it “day by day.” Though she wasn’t sure what the owner has planned, the employee has heard rumblings through the community.

“A lot of people are pissed,” she said, pointing out that business is thriving. “We wouldn’t still be here without the community [shopping here].”

kristyn.anthony@

vicnews.com

Just Posted

Saanich Police honour officer who died in 1960

Const. Robert Kirby the only Saanich officer to be killed on duty

Unearthed music compositions written by Dunsmuir heiress

Music discovered in England by Craigdarroch curator to be played this Saturday at GVPL event

Greater Victoria School District adopts new dress code policy

Two years in the making, SD61 moves to more inclusionary guidelines

Esquimalt council green-lights first mass-timber building on Vancouver Island

Mayor appreciates 12-storey structure’s proximity to naval base, graving dock and Seaspan

Legal action against B.C. specualtion tax a last resort

Group of Arizona home owners feel they’ve been swept up in an attack on land speculators

Parents call for change to health laws after Oak Bay teen’s death

Accidental overdose has Elliot Eurchuk’s parents seeking change to B.C Infants Act

Memorial to victims of Toronto van attack continues to grow

The subway station where a van was used to run down pedestrians has reopened in Toronto

Small aircraft touches down on Calgary street

The twin-engine plane was apparently short on fuel forcing an emergency landing

B.C.’s living wage increase curbed due to MSP cuts, child care subsidy: report

Living wage varies between $16.51 in north central B.C. to $20.91 in Metro Vancouver

Amalgamation Yes hosting citizen’s assembly info meeting Wednesday at Vic High

Mayors of Victoria and Saanich will be on hand to give updates to residents

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

$1.18 to $1.58 a litre: Are you paying the most for gas in B.C.?

Gas prices across B.C. vary, with lowest in Vernon and highest in – you guessed it – Metro Vancouver

Most Read