Lorenzo Arena has been running LA Tires in Dorval for 7 years. Its garage is right near the intersection of Des Sources and Highway 20, and shares a lot with an Ultramar gas station.
He says business has been going very well, but on Christmas Day, he got some crushing news.
Parkland Fuel Corporation, the parent company of Ultramar and owner of the land, has a plan to re-imagine the lot, including a new depanneur, a re-designed gas station, a Starbucks complete with drive-thru, and a car wash.
LA Tires does not appear in an artist rendering of the new concept.
“It’s very stressful at the moment,” Arena, who leases the garage from Parkland for $8,000 a month, told Global News.
“I’m not sleeping very well.”
Since restaurants are not currently allowed on the property, Parkland needs the city to authorize a zoning change in order to bring the vision to life.
“Ultramar, Parkland Fuel Corporation does not tell me anything that’s going on,” Arena said. “I had to find out through social media and the city to see their plans.”
The municipality of Dorval, however, doesn’t seem to have a problem with the idea.
“As a city, we analyzed the request, and there’s nothing out of the ordinary,” said Dorval spokesperson Sebastien Gauthier.
“They don’t want to put in a circus or anything like that, so the request for us made sense.”
For Arena, however, it’s all part of a larger problem.
“It makes me feel bad,” he said. “There’s big corporations that take advantage of little people like us who try to make a living an honest living.
“We get stepped over by fuel corporations and corporations like Starbucks.”
Arena is still holding out hope. If he can get people from the immediate area to sign a petition in his favour, he could force the city to hold a referendum on the zoning change.
“I would like the residents to come sign my petition,” he said, saying the petition can be found at his business. “I have it on the front counter here, I need more signatures, so come encourage me.
“The last thing we need is a Starbucks.”
Employees and clients say they’ll be devastated if the garage shuts down.
“Lorenzo treats us like we’re his own children. I haven’t had a better boss in my whole life,” said employee Alexandra Daigle.
Arena is hoping to move his business elsewhere in the West Island, but says finding a suitable location has been very difficult. He said one location asked for double the rent he pays now.
Dorval will be meeting with Arena on Friday to discuss the matter and try to help him find another location.
Parkland Fuel Corporation, meanwhile, told Global News it would look into the situation before issuing a statement.