Dave Shebib

After complaints pile up, Saanich shuts down Free Store

It wasn’t the lack of revenue that caused the Free Store to close its doors.

It wasn’t the lack of revenue that caused the Free Store to close its doors.

On Monday, Saanich bylaw enforcement officers shut down the Saanich West exchange, where for the last two years members of the public have dropped off or picked up reusable items free of charge.

The unsightly state of the property – host to more than one unlicensed vehicle and outside storage – formed the basis of the action from the municipality.

David Shebib, who from 5090 West Saanich Rd. ran the store and business, Garbage Guru Hauling, with his son Andrew McLean, considers the closure a loss to the community.

“I’m not concerned that (Saanich) shut down the Free Store,” said Shebib, who ran low-key anti-establishment mayoral campaigns for Victoria and Saanich in 2011.

“My concern is that they’re not offering any alternative. They’re not recognizing that this could be a good service for the community, or putting something up at Hartland where people can recycle good stuff.”

Saanich bylaw enforcement officers have visited the “unsightly premises” 15 times since February 2011, said Doug Roberts, senior bylaw enforcement officer.

“When I say unsightly, I mean an accumulation of scrap metal, scrap lumber, disused and broken items,” Roberts said. “We can appreciate what the occupant was trying to do, unfortunately, that property is not zoned for that type of operation. I would hope that if the occupant is sincere, that he would look at another location.”

Complaints to Saanich from neighbours and motorists have reached beyond esthetics to road safety concerns due to cars turning abruptly to access the lot, as well as issues related to parking. Bylaws broken related to the number of unlicensed vehicles, the unsightly nature of the premises, garbage and business regulations.

Property co-owner Sam Sierra does’t have a problem with the Free Store, or Shebib. Sierra eventually asked Shebib to shut down the operation on July 9 for fear of placing his other properties in jeopardy. (Shebib will not technically be evicted, since McLean’s name appears on the lease.) And while he would have preferred if Shebib had kept the property cleaner, it’s not the most unsightly address in the neighbourhood, Sierra noted.

“I think he’s doing a good thing,” said Sierra, who co-owns the property with Paul Aujla. “(Bylaw enforcement officers) can’t do anything to him so they’re coming after us.”

In the last day of operation, Shebib estimates there were 150 visitors to his store.

“I’m trying to do what I think is a responsible thing and divert this stuff that’s going to the dump,” Shebib said. “It’s the 2012 version of the banning of the potlatch that’s being outlawed.”

The 68-year-old said he plans to take his fight for the Free Store to court and eventually move to Bella Coola, where he owns property. Previous to the opening of his store two years ago in Saanich, Shebib ran a Free Store on Salt Spring Island. It was also shut down.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich residents sound alarm after second owl dies of rat poison

Great Horned Owl found in Kings Park killed by three rodenticides

Point-guard lobs no-look, three-pointer for Oak Bay High video

Trick-shot only took three times, says Oak Bay teen

Cancelled cruise ships costs Victoria more than $130 million

Transport Canada bans ships until end of October in response to COVID-19

Phase-by-phase look at how Greater Victoria Public Libraries will reopen

GVPL to quarantine returned material for a minimum of 72 hours before lending again

Langford pitches Westhills as Canadian Premier League soccer hub

Langford could host all eight teams for August matches

VIDEO: Victoria dental staff dance to *NSYNC to promote reopening

Urban Smiles staff ‘want you back’ after closure in response to pandemic

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

Arrest comes after three days of protests, which escalated in violence as demonstrators torched a police precinct

Most Read