For several decades, the City of Coquitlam has required retail fuel stations to provide only full service (i.e. fuel to be dispensed by an employee/attendant). Coquitlam also restricts the range of non-petroleum goods that can be sold from fuel outlets. This is one of a small number of jurisdictions in North America with such requirements – Richmond BC as well as the states of Oregon and New Jersey have similar statutes (some other jurisdictions require a mix of full- and self-service at each site). The great majority of jurisdictions in Canada and the U.S. however, do not regulate the mode of service required at the pump, or what non-petroleum goods or services can be sold.
The Kent Group Ltd has prepared an independent report to examine the merits of a revised full-service bylaw for Coquitlam that might allow for split island (a combination of full and self-serve) or entirely self-serve sites. The original intent of Coquitlam’s bylaw, introduced in 1959, was to impose a requirement for pump attendant employment, and to protect other retail merchants from competition by gas stations in the sale of non-petroleum (convenience store) merchandise. Our findings however, showed that consumer demand for full service has declined considerably since 1959, and that the requirement for full-service stations in Coquitlam has imposed higher operating costs on dealers, with little or no ability to charge more for full service compared to the self-serve prices in neighbouring jurisdictions.
While other industries have been unfettered in introducing self-service offerings (such as stand-alone banking ATM machines), our findings showed that pump service restrictions in Coquitlam have had the unintended consequences of inhibited capital investment, reduced operating hours, and more station closures (and related loss of employment) than would otherwise have been the case.
The full report is available for viewing and downloading using the following link: Report 2016-652 Chevron – Coquitlam FS Analysis