Gas stations may ultimately be forced to provide full service to people with mobility issues.
Vernon council will form a committee to consider whether there should be a bylaw requiring that one-third of all fueling services at gas stations be full-serve to make it safer for seniors and the disabled.
“There is a lot of panic among seniors who will have to get someone else to pump their fuel,” said Coun. Catherine Lord.
It was pointed out that the few remaining businesses with full-serve are phasing that option out.
“It’s not the way to encourage independent living,” said Coun. Patrick Nicol, adding that individuals in wheelchairs can’t get out of their vehicles to pump gas.
While some social agencies have asked the city to proceed with a bylaw, council decided to form a committee to consider the matter. The committee will include gas station owners.
“We need to give them the opportunity for input instead of being a top-down council,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.
“Give them a chance to be heard and they may have some good ideas.”
Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe says the needs of seniors and the disabled must be addressed, but the interests of gas station operators must also be considered.
“They are functioning on small profit margins and government imposing more costs can impact that margin,” she said.
Council members were surprised to learn that there are no formal requirements for gas stations in B.C. or Canada to assist the disabled with fuelling vehicles.
“In some communities this has been enacted by bylaw but there is no federal or provincial legislation that stops a service station from having all self-serve pumps,” said Leon Gous, chief administrative officer.