Categories: Provincial News

Province announces bill to prevent gas-and-dash

Pierre Belhumer of St. Albert says he's not convinced having legislation that requires all fuel purchases to be pre-paid is necessary yet citing a recent trip to the U.K. where he didn't encounter any pre-pay pumps. However St. Albert RCMP statistics show that St. Albert has experienced more than 100 gas thefts a year from 2015 to present.

The Alberta NDP has its sights on stomping out gas theft in the province. The government announced a new bill that would require both pre-payment for fuel and violence-prevention plans at retail fuel and convenience stores. The bill is designed to stop gas-and-dash fuel thefts.

Corp. Laurel Kading of the St. Albert RCMP says the announcement is good news for the St. Albert RCMP.

“From our perspective as the RCMP, this is a good law to come in. We think that it’s reinforcing safety standards for our gas station employees, and that should be important to everyone,” she says.

The Act to Protect Gas and Convenience Store Workers follows several fatal gas-and-dashes in the province.

In 2014 gas theft prevention was listed as one of the St. Albert RCMP’s main priorities. At the time RCMP officers visited gas stations across St. Albert and spoke with owners and workers on gas theft.

Some of the topics covered were how to handle gas theft, how to set up environments to make gas theft more difficult and making pre-payment at gas pumps mandatory.

Kading says officers received mixed reviews when it came to requiring drivers to pay before filling up at their gas stations.

“A lot of the gas stations only make a certain amount of profit from the gas. Where they can make additional revenue is through people coming in and purchasing the products within the store,” she says.

“There’s a fear out there that if you go to pay-at-the-pump, that you end up not making that revenue.”

She says they heard that stations would have a harder time competing, and that individual stations wouldn’t make pre-paying mandatory unless it was adopted at all the stations in St. Albert.

Some stations also said they couldn’t make the changes unless their corporate office approved them.

In 2015 there were 136 gas thefts in St. Albert. In 2016 that number decreased to 123 gas thefts. So far this year there have been 114 gas thefts.

Two of the most recent gas thefts have occurred at two different Petro Canada gas stations in St. Albert.

The first took place on Sept. 27, when two individuals stole $115 worth of gas. The second incident took place on Oct. 4 when a male filled up his truck and left without paying.

Nicole Fisher, of corporate communications with Petro Canada, says the changes will better protect their workers. She says currently pre-payment for fuel isn’t mandatory at all Petro Canada gas stations.

“We look at each station and the security measures that need to be in place at those stations,” she says. “Not that all security measures aren’t important at all stations, but we look at it on a case-by-case basis.”

She says safety is a top priority for the company. If the legislation is approved, she says the measures would be adopted at all Petro Canada gas stations across the province.

Fisher adds that if gas theft does occur, workers should not attempt to stop the vehicle.

“We are committed to the safety of our associates and our attendants,” she says. “Their own personal safety is number one.”

British Columbia has had pay-before-you-pump legislation since 2008. If the bill is passed, the changes would come into effect on June 1, 2018.

Dayla Lahring :Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.