Prince Albert City Council shot down a motion to implement a bylaw to require the pre-payment of fuel for all gas stations within City limits, with a majority of councillors in agreement that the responsibility should fall on the provincial government.
The motion stems from a letter by the Board of Police Commissioners asking for City Council to consider the bylaw after a “considerable increase” in the number of thefts involving fuel stolen in the last few years.
“I’m a little bit uncomfortable passing a bylaw telling businesses how they collect money selling a product,” said Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick. “I think that goes beyond the scope of what we should and shouldn’t be doing.”
Coun. Tony Head was in agreement and said that going forward with such a bylaw is a “slippery road”.
“Maybe some more conversations are needed with the business owners,” said Head. “I think that’s needed first before we make an over-sweeping change in the way we do business when it comes to our fuel.”
Coun. Ted Zurakowski pointed out that it was the provincial governments and not the municipalities that implemented pre-pay fuel bylaws in other communities. He suggested that some advocacy needs to take place within the Saskatchewan Police Commission themselves with the province.
“If it’s an issue here, you can guarantee it’s an issue in other cities,” he said. “Way more conversation needs to take place before we go knocking on the door of our businesses.”
Dawn Kilmer, Coun. for Ward 7, expressed her disappointment with the motion being withdraw. She said she believes the Police Service has the ability to consult with local businesses that experience gas-and-go’s and give them some pointers to help alleviate some of the theft.
“I do think some time spent with some business owners, the ones that have consistent police presence or calls, speaking with them, helping them design or do something or give them some suggestions is time well spent,” she said.
Tipi Fuel & Convenience Store is one of several businesses in Prince Albert that offer both self-serve and full-serve fueling stations and don’t currently require pre-payment.
Manager Blake Bear said they do experience some gas-and-dashes and while they’ve considered requiring pre-payment for fuel, issues around losing business due to convenience has made them hold off.
“I think it’s a problem for everybody,” said Bear.
He added that a bylaw requiring pre-payment for all gas stations in Prince Albert could combat the issue and potentially be helpful.
The motion was defeated by a close five to four votes, with mayor Greg Dionne and councillors Head, Cody, Zurakowski, and Miller against it.