Dave Shebib

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

 

Just Posted

A bathtub kitchen garden is part of the lineup for this year’s Teeny Tiny Garden Tour to benefit Victoria Hospice. (Screenshot/Teeny Tiny Garden Tour)
Virtual garden tour for Victoria Hospice features trio of back yards

Online tour is free; calendar purchase and donation options raise money for the cause

The Town of Sidney supports efforts to rename Reay Creek to KELSET, its traditional SENCOTEN name. (Black Press Media file photo)
Town of Sidney signs off on Reay Creek name change to KELSET

Name change does not affect surrounding parkland, but public supports doing so

Steve Mann and Tim Hackett consider Marigold Lands their finest development. (Rendering courtesy Marigold Lands)
Marigold residences grow more townhouses and condos in Central Saanich

50 condos, 14 townhouses up next for project adjacent to Pat Bay Highway

Norman Mogensen sets up strings for his beans in his plot in the Oak Bay community gardens. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay gardener spends decades cultivating, improving daddy’s beans

85-year-old vegan part of the community gardens scene

The Pool at the Esquimalt Rec Centre. (Courtesy of theTownship of Esquimalt/ Facebook)
Esquimalt Rec Centre restarting everyone welcome swim times later this month

The 90-minute sessions will be on select evenings and weekends

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read