Pre-pay leg­is­la­tion makes ‘good sense’ in end­ing gas-and-dash theft scourge

Calgary Herald - - CITY - DEAN BEN­NETT

All Al­berta driv­ers will have to pay in ad­vance be­fore they gas up at the pumps un­der leg­is­la­tion in­tro­duced Mon­day.

Labour Min­is­ter Christina Gray says it’s about safety of staff at gas sta­tions, some of whom have died try­ing to pre­vent so-called gasand-dash thefts.

“No one should suf­fer in­jury and pain (and) no fam­ily should suf­fer the loss of a loved one just be­cause some­one was self­ish enough to try and drive away with a full tank of stolen gas,” Gray told a news con­fer­ence af­ter in­tro­duc­ing a bill to amend the Oc­cu­pa­tional Health and Safety Code. “Our gov­ern­ment promised to take ac­tion to pro­tect th­ese work­ers’ lives, and that ac­tion be­gins to­day.”

If passed, Bill 19 will take ef­fect on June 1, 2018.

Re­tail­ers can choose sev­eral op­tions, in­clud­ing pay-at-the pump tech­nol­ogy. Gray said in­stalling that tech­nol­ogy can cost $30,000 per pump.

She said re­tail­ers can also choose an op­tional method, such as hav­ing a cus­tomer leave a de­posit or a credit card be­fore fill­ing up.

In other cases, Gray said the province would work with re­tail­ers to ar­range a sys­tem that meets the re­quire­ments of the new rules.

Gray had promised a re­sponse ear­lier this month af­ter gas-sta­tion owner Ki Yun Jo died when he was run over by the driver of a stolen cube van as he fled with­out pay­ing for $200 in gas in Thorsby, south­west of Ed­mon­ton.

In Au­gust, Joshua Cody Mitchell was sen­tenced to 11 years in prison for run­ning over and killing Calgary gas sta­tion at­ten­dant Maryam Rashidi while Mitchell was try­ing to take off with­out pay­ing.

Husky ex­ec­u­tive Lawrence Rich­ler said his com­pany is al­ready con­vert­ing all re­tail sites to pre-pay­ment to make it safer for work­ers.

“We be­lieve this is the right thing to do, and so do the peo­ple at our sta­tions,” said Rich­ler.

Ed­mon­ton Po­lice Chief Rod Knecht, speak­ing on be­half of the Al­berta As­so­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice, said the changes will not only save lives but save po­lice from hours of work in­ves­ti­gat­ing gas-and-dash thefts.

“(Those are) hours that will be put to­wards other press­ing pub­lic safety is­sues,” said Knecht.

“It’s so rare that we have a clear, es­tab­lished, and highly ef­fec­tive so­lu­tion to a com­mon crime. Im­ple­ment­ing that so­lu­tion just makes good sense.”

“The gov­ern­ment should have taken the steps much sooner than it is do­ing now,” Eh­san Hos­seini, a friend of the Rashidi fam­ily, said in a state­ment. “How­ever, I hope the new leg­is­la­tion is com­plete and strong enough to avoid fur­ther in­ci­dents.”

The province is also mak­ing changes to make the work­place safer for con­ve­nience store at­ten­dants.

The new law will man­date that the stores have video mon­i­tor­ing and per­sonal emer­gency trans­mit­ters for em­ploy­ees work­ing alone.

Stores that are open overnight will need to have time-lock safes that can’t be opened by staff.

IAN KUCERAK

Labour Min­is­ter Christina Gray and Husky ex­ec­u­tive Lawrence Rich­ler at a Husky gas sta­tion in Ed­mon­ton. “We be­lieve this is the right thing to do,” Rich­ler said of the gov­ern­ment’s pre-pay leg­is­la­tion.

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