Parksville ponders pump labels

City council will look at a staff report before deciding on any bylaw forcing gas stations to put labels on pump handles

City council will consider a bylaw demanding gas stations in Parksville place climate-change warning labels on fuel pump handles.

Councillors seemed divided on the issue at their regular meeting Monday night after hearing a presentation from lawyer Robert Shirkey, the executive director of an organization called Our Horizon. In the end, council unanimously directed staff to provide a report and possibly a draft bylaw for a vote at a future meeting.

“I can’t support this,” said Coun. Al Greir. “We’re not in a position to tell private business what to do.” Greir said the economy is “already in the tank” and a measure like this “does nothing but hurt us.”

Coun. Sue Powell spoke in favour of the initiative.

“We (Greir and herself) sit on opposite sides of the mayor for a reason,” Powell quipped. “We have come to a crossroads (on climate change) and we need to move forward.”

Coun. Teresa Patterson is the only member of council who currently owns and operates a business. She said after the meeting she will wait until the staff report to make her final decision, “but we have to start somewhere.”

Mayor Marc Lefebvre said he feels like “a hypocrite” in regards to this issue. He said he supports environmental initiatives but he still drives an internal combustion vehicle that depends on fossil fuels.

“I have a great deal of problem with this initiative,” said Lefebvre. “I can look at that thing (a warning label on the fuel pump handle) until the cows come home, but I’m still going to pump gas into my car.”

In January of 2015, the District of West Vancouver unanimously passed a resolution “that all vendors of retail petroleum products in Canada be legislated to provide warning labels on all pump handles.”

In the supporting literature to his presentation Monday night, Shirkey wrote that West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith’s support of the initiative “is a particularly noteworthy example of leadership as he has been a petroleum distributor in the Metro Vancouver area for close to 30 years.”

Mary Beil said Monday she has spoken to West Vancouver representatives who explained how the bylaw is enforced. She said businesses must have the labels on the fuel pump handles before their business licences are renewed with the city.

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