The Comox Valley Regional District’s Daniel Arbour brought a motion forward to the Electoral Services Committee meeting on Monday, Aug. 9, requesting staff to prepare a report concerning the possible elimination of petroleum-derived fuels at automotive service stations.
His move comes at a time when the province has been investing in charging stations for electric vehicles.
On June 29, the federal government announced an accelerated mandatory target for all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks sales to be zero-emission by 2035. The previous target was 2040.
Arbour says his move is not aimed at making petroleum illegal immediately. Drivers will still be able to fuel up, but what he wants to see is a zoning change that references hydrogen fuels, electrical energy and other sources, with petroleum-derived fuels removed from the wording.
“I’m trying something that could be a first in North America,” he told the Record. “I’m going to put forward a resolution in light of the climate crisis.”
The resolution would ultimately remove the right to sell petroleum fuels at gas stations. For now, he wants to start the debate.
“Gas stations wouldn’t have to stop overnight,” he said.
The stations would become legally non-compliant, meaning they could operate for now. However, they could not expand capacity or resume sales if they have suspended activities at a site.
The motion, as recorded at the Monday, Aug. 9 CVRD Electoral Services Committee meeting, read “THAT staff be directed to bring forward a report concerning a potential amendment to Rural Comox Valley Zoning Bylaw No. 520, to change the definition of “Automotive Service Station” to exclude petroleum-derived fuels;
AND FURTHER THAT this report be provided to the Electoral Services Committee with other proposed administrative amendments planned for early 2022.
The motion was passed, with only Area C director Edwin Grieve in opposition.
One of Grieve’s concerns brought up during the discussion is how the bylaw would affect areas like Mount Washington, which does not currently have an automotive service station, but could reasonably need one as the resort expands. Under the current wording, any new builds would not be allowed to include petroleum.
In an email distributed to media after the vote, Grieve pointed out that such decisions should not be made by local governments.
“With only seven per cent of the total tax dollar going to local government and given that this revenue stream is based only on assessed property values…, this proposed bylaw seems to be more about appearing to be doing something about climate change by using municipal powers over zoning when in actuality what is needed is broad, bold international action by national governments,” he said. “I fully sympathize with the mover. This summer has brought home the extent to which we all find ourselves in a (climate crisis) with droughts, floods and wildfires, but we lack both the resources and the regulatory authority to continually take on more and more as senior governments shirk their responsibilities and kick the can down the road.”
-With files from Mike Chouinard