FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — It’s officially the end of an era in Fort St. John after WL Construction crews began demolishing the old Fort Motors building on 100th Street this morning.
Fort Motors was founded at the corner of 100th Street and 96th Ave. by Wally and Opal Gentles on January 2nd, 1961. The couple’s son Brian purchased the Ford dealership from his parents in 1993, and oversaw its move to its present location on Alaska Road in 2006. Since then, Gentles has allowed area non-profit organizations to use the vacant building for anything from storage to dance lessons.
Though he sold Fort Motors in 2016, Gentles still owns the lot where the dealership stood for 45 years. He said that the building is now past its useful lifespan, and has decided to knock the building down in order to start the environmental cleanup of the lot.
Gentles said that from the time the backhoe first hit the building, it only took 45 minutes to reduce it to a pike of rubble. He added that the full cleanup will likely take at least several days as the building’s material is sorted and properly disposed of.
According to Gentles, the vast majority of the environmental reclamation will need to be done to address contamination from a gas station that used to sit on the lot. He explained that though the fuel tanks were removed some years ago, the site will still need to be cleaned up before any new development can be done.
Gentles added that he doesn’t have any future plans to develop the site and that has hasn’t gotten any offers to buy the property, but that he won’t likely be responsible for getting the site developed.