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Headlines from the past: Coquitlam gas station owner wants self-serve pumps to improve employee safety

Coquitlam is one of two cities in Metro Vancouver that continue to prohibit self-serve gas stations.
A boost in gas station robberies in 1992 prompted one propietor of a Mohawk station in Coquitlam to call for the city to allow self-serve operations to help keep his staff safe.

Stories from Tri-City News headlines of decades past is a recurring feature as the publication approaches its 40th anniversary in 2024.

Pumping your own gas has become as commonplace as getting cash from an ATM.

Except in Coquitlam.

The city, along with Richmond, remain the only holdout communities in Metro Vancouver where local bylaws prohibit self-serve gas stations.

It's been that way in Coquitlam for decades, citing safety concerns around self-service and a way to keep young people employed as gas jockeys.

Not that there hasn't been pushback from gas station owners and even manufacturers.

In 1992,  after an increase in gas station robberies, the proprietor of a Mohawk station on Como Lake Road said his employees were being put in danger when they had to pump gas for customers in the overnight hours.

"I'm starting to get a little concerned about late-night opening," Jack Ford told the Tri-City News. "Robbers are after two things — money and cigarettes and we've got them both."

But Coquitlam RCMP said they had no conclusive evidence that full-service gas stations in Coquitlam were being targeted by thieves more than self-serve stations in Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.

Crime prevention officer, Const. Brian Foote, said, in fact, employees at self-serve stations are equally vulnerable as most work in a convenience store setting with no protection between them and customers.

Instead, police advised gas station owners to keep less cash and cigarettes on their premises and even mark the latter so they could be traced if stolen.

In 2008, the provincial government mandated gas purchases be pre-paid at the pump, as well as staffing and training requirements for overnight shifts.

The rules, called "Grant's Law," were enacted in response to the death three years earlier of Grant De Patie, a 24-year-old attendant at a gas station in Maple Ridge, who was killed when he tried to intervene in a gas-and-dash incident.

Four years later, some of rules, such as a requirement to have two staff members on overnight shifts, were removed. Instead, stations could be equipped with time-lock safes, surveillance cameras and panic buttons.

In 2016, a lobbying effort by Chevron to revisit Coquitlam's ban on self-serve stations was rebuffed by council, instead referring the matter back to staff for further study.

The Tri-City News has covered civic affairs, local crime, festivals, events, personalities, sports and arts in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody since 1983. Bound back issues of the paper are available at the Coquitlam Archives, while digital versions of several past years can be found at