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‘I need time to move’: Waterloo auto shop to be scrapped for bike lanes and trail improvements

Jim Pham is the owner of PTN Automotive in Waterloo, which will need to find a new home due to the city’s expropriation of downtown property for active transportation upgrades.

A team of mechanics and three service bays will be evicted in the name of public safety as part of an expropriation to make way for bike lanes and improved trails.

Jim Pham, who operates PTN Automotive as a tenant at 123 Moore Ave. S. risks being caught in the middle of the process initiated by the City of Waterloo, which determined in 2019 that the property should be acquired as part of a reconstruction project on Union Street East (from King Street to Moore Avenue).

“If they take it, they have to do something for me,” Pham said. “We can’t just leave; I need time to move.

Pham, who was looking for a bigger location to consolidate his two locations in Waterloo Region – he operates a small garage with two dumbwaiters on Victoria Street – said it was difficult to find a bigger location at a rent within reason.

Pham told the Chronicle last week that he was aware of the possibility of having to leave but had not been officially informed of any impending changes.

Pursuant to a city council resolution, the landlord and tenant will be notified in accordance with expropriations law, the initial phase of what can be a lengthy process, according to city attorney Christina Marina, who said in a statement. e-mail “it will not be immediate that the tenant will have to leave.

According to the city, construction of Union Street has been delayed due to the pandemic and will now be done in two phases, starting next year.

Expropriation proceedings will be halted if a sale can be negotiated, according to the report to council; however, attempts by the city to reach the owner to reach a fair deal were unsuccessful. The Chronicle’s attempts to reach Michael and Catherine Slothouber, listed as owners since 2013, were not returned.

Pham acknowledged a rift between his landlord and the city, but did not go into details.

He said he was always busy, with his team of four servicing 15 to 20 cars a day from its Moore Avenue location which opened in 2017. Specializing in various European brands of automobiles, the store offers also general repairs and maintenance.

Pham references his Google reviews and said he has built a loyal following as many people in the area struggle to find a reliable mechanic. To meet demand, he is looking to hire a few more qualified people, who have been hard to find since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pham says.

Vehicles awaiting service often fill the parking lot at the corner of Union Street East and Moore Avenue South. The intersection has raised traffic concerns due to poor visibility and congestion, according to a staff report.

Currently, there is an encroachment on city land that is fundamental to the operation of the business, he says.

The city has approximately 3.75 meters of right-of-way beyond the rear edge of the sidewalk. “If the city were to use the full right-of-way by moving the sidewalk in order to provide bike lanes, the current building would not be able to continue to operate because there would not be enough space to enter and exit the garages. ”

The town’s project team also created a plan to address council and resident concerns about the Union Spurline Trail crossing by creating a secondary crossing at Moore’s lights.

“This secondary crossing requires a significant amount of additional property along the east side of the property which would further impede the current operation if implemented. So the whole plot, including the building, is required,” he says.

The improvements will be part of an active school route to Elizabeth Ziegler Public School at 90 Moore Ave. S.

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: City Council voted to expropriate the property located at 123 Moore Ave. S. and the Chronicle attempted to speak to those affected by the decision.