In July 2016, Vancouver City Council voted to ban Natural Gas fuel from homes and restaurants by 2050. The 1st phase of that policy was put into place and applied on May 1 of this year to affect all developments requiring Re-zoning. As of March 2018, the policy will apply to all multi-family projects of 4 or more stories, and eventually it will apply to all single family homes, duplexes, and rowhouse/townhouse projects. It will also apply to commercial and retail spaces, including all restaurants, bars etc, as well as to schools and factories. City officials also indicate that in the future, all businesses, existing buildings and homes will be required to retrofit to eliminate all use of natural gas.
General reaction from residents, business and industry has ranged from the incredulous (“It’s April Fools, right?”), to concern and open anger. Fortis BC, as well as business and industry associations point out that the policy will cost consumers 3 times what they now pay for natural gas, while giving them less choice in lifestyle - and still likely not achieve what the City states as its goal.
The Canadian Taxpayers Association estimates that the cost for energy bills will be $1,400/yr for residents by changing to electricity, and many thousands of $$ more for retrofit of homes and business. For the restaurant industry the challenge is even greater as 99% of all restaurants cook with natural gas. The City, for its part, insists that this is not an outright ban, saying users will have the option of using biofuels and ”re-cycled” natural gas. Fortis and others have responded to this by pointing out that biofuel and other options have the capacity to service less than 1/3 of Vancouver’s requirement. Ian Tostenson of the BC Restaurant Assn reports that no one at the City has been able to answer the question “How is everybody going to be able to handle this?”
As Vancouver residents contemplate losing the right to enjoy gas stoves and bbqs, gas fireplaces, home furnaces and water heaters, patio heat lamps, pool and hot tub heaters, and even Vancouver’s Olympic Cauldron along with a flame broiled steak at their favourite restaurant (to mention a few items) they can ask the question “Is this what we elected and hired our City Officials, Council and Mayor to do?
Update to this Article
The Chevron gas station located in Vancouver at 41st & Oak closed on August 15, 2017, and the Chevron at 16th & Cambie will be boarded up by August 18. This follows the sale of the Chevron at 1698 West Georgia (supposedly for $72M and the proposed site of a 350 ft tower), as well as the station at 39th & Dunbar, and will soon be followed by the closing of the Chevrons at Broadway & Alma, 4th & Macdonald, plus 59th & Cambie.
The sites will be redeveloped into high density residential buildings, possibly some Market Rentals. This is the latest in the trend of closing gas stations in Vancouver. The Esso station at Davie & Burrard is also for sale and a sign of the times, we suppose. This will have more than a slight impact on getting gas on Vancouver’s West Side, especially since these are all highly frequented location, some open 24 hours.
On a personal note, the 41st & Oak and the 16th & Cambie Chevrons have been my "favorite gas ups" for decades, so I’m all ahoo with grief. The City of Vancouver seems unconcerned, as they had been aware of Chevron’s plans for this move, as they changed the zoning for the West End properties years ago. "I have no concerns..." said Vision councillor Raymond Louie - a sentiment echoed by official City of Vancouver statements. One can only wonder if this is part of Mayor Robinson and Vision Vancouver’s agenda for a city of no gas, no cars? Call Bob Bracken anytime to discuss this topic and real estate.
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