Gas pump (Wikimedia Commons)

Gas pump (Wikimedia Commons)

COMMEN-TERRY: It’s too soon to consider eliminating petrol at service stations

On Monday, Aug. 9, the Comox Valley Regional District’s Electoral Services Committee passed a motion put forth by Area A director Daniel Arbour, requesting a staff report on the feasibility of restricting gas sales at automotive service stations.

The motion, as recorded at the 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.”

RELATED: CVRD passes motion to explore the elimination of petroleum-derived fuels at gas stations

While I applaud Mr. Arbour’s enthusiasm, I feel that in this instance, he is putting the cart ahead of the horse.

I have no problem with encouraging the adaptation of alternative, renewable energy. I do as much as I can in that regard. I’ve investigated the feasibility of electric vehicles for my household, as well as solar energy.

But to date, I’ve found the infrastructure of both concepts to be a) inferior to my needs; and b) beyond my budget.

I do know that eventually I will own an electric vehicle, but I expect my current vehicle to last at least another eight years before I need to replace it.

My wife, whose business requires her to put nearly 40,000 km on her vehicle every year, drives far too much for an electric vehicle to be considered at their current single battery charge capability.

And there’s the rub.

Telling service stations that they can no longer add gasoline pumps to their property, or – should such stations be dormant for any period of time – that they cannot re-open with any gasoline pumps, is premature.

The catalyst for this entire conversation is the federal mandate that by 2035, all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks sales are to be zero-emission.

What the proponents to Mr. Arbour’s resolution misunderstand is that is not an end date – that is a start date.

If all cars sold from 2035 and beyond are to be zero-emission, that means that before 2035 there will still be a certain amount of petroleum-fueled vehicles sold.

Also of note, used car sales account for approximately two-thirds of all car sales in North America (source, meaning that the majority of the cars being purchased in 2035 will not be mandated to be zero-emission.

Based on most data I have read, the average lifespan of a car these days is 12 years. With that in mind, the average new car bought today – more than 96 per cent of which are petroleum-dependent – will still be running in 2033. The average car bought in 2030 will still be running in 2042. And the majority of cars bought five, even 10 years from now, will likely still be fueled by gasoline.

While I have no problem with introducing a bylaw stating all new automotive service stations must have ‘x’ amount of electric vehicle charging stations, enforcing service stations to stop, or decrease the accessibility to petroleum-based fuel, at a time when only 3.5 per cent of new cars sold in Canada are electric (source: Statscan) makes little sense.

I do believe electric cars are the way of the future. But the key word there is “future.”

Until such a time that an electric car can get 1,000 km on a single charge, they are not feasible for the portion of my household that does the majority of driving – my wife.

And until electric cars can withstand sustained -45C temperatures without substantial battery drainage, they will not be the vehicles of choice for most of Canada – particularly to those who we rely most heavily upon for tourism dollars: Albertans.

Until then, while the switch to electric vehicles will continue, and grow, we cannot ignore the needs of the vast majority of Canadians.

I praise Mr. Arbour for starting the conversation, although I suspect the completed staff report will include numerous “proposed administrative amendments.”

Terry Farrell is the editor of the Comox Valley Record
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