Skip to content

RADIA: Full serve gas a luxury gas stations can't afford

I must admit that I avoid Coquitlam gas stations like the plague. And I don't think I'm alone, on that.

I must admit that I avoid Coquitlam gas stations like the plague.

And I don't think I'm alone, on that.

For those that don't know, Coquitlam and Richmond are the only two communities in British Columbia with an archaic law that requires all gas stations to be full-service.

That's right, in 2012, we in Coquitlam are not allowed to pump our own gas; instead we're forced to wait for service from hurried gas jockeys.

I understand that, at one time, there were payment issues and safety concerns that would have made self-service dangerous and costly.

But today, self-service has been proven to be safe in every other community in British Columbia and the issue of 'drive-offs' has been addressed through pre-pay laws.

Invariably, my left-leaning colleague opposite harps on the fact that this law somehow creates jobs in Coquitlam.

Unfortunately, the evidence suggests otherwise.

A 2001 study on behalf of the City of Richmond proved that in a full-serve environment, drivers are less inclined to get out of their vehicles to shop for a bag of chips or a bottle of pop at the convenience stores that now commonly accompany gas stations.

In Burnaby - which doesn't have a full-service law - the average store took in $63,000 per year compared to just $17,000 in Richmond. Similar studies in the United States have yielded similar results.

Moreover, Richmond's study indicated that the self-serve ban hampered investment in new gas stations and discouraged existing retailers from renovating or enhancing their stations.

In other words, mandatory full-service actually leads to fewer jobs.

One does have to be sensitive to the fact that Coquitlam's bylaw has a lot to do with offering the convenience to seniors and people with physical disabilities.

What I would propose, however, is that each gas station be required to provide full-service upon request for those specific demographics.

Doesn't that sound fair and logical?

Frankly I'm shocked that a coalition of retailers or even a free-enterprise city councillor hasn't already championed that change.

Maybe, instead of wasting time on provincial and federal issues such as bans on shark fins and pesticides, Coquitlam city council could focus on a local issue that actually affects the daily lives of local residents.

Please city council - stop punishing local businesses and give local consumers a choice at the pump.