The gas station might survive – but not the suburban form in urban centres.
From the CBC:
Vancouver is set to lose its last downtown gas station, as the Esso at Burrard Street and Davie Street is now listed for sale. Late last month, the only other place to fill up in the city’s downtown area closed.

The surging cost of real estate in the city is adding pressure to shut down businesses like gas stations, sell the properties, and build dense, lucrative developments like condominiums.

Changing face of transportation

Gordon Price, former Vancouver city councillor and fellow at the Simon Fraser University Centre of Dialogue, says the current business model for gas stations is under threat.
“Some would say this is the end of the gas station in downtown Vancouver, but really, it’s the end of the suburban model for gas stations — the idea where you take the good part of a block, pave it over, put up a few gas pumps and a mini-mart,” said Price. “That model, given the land values, is clearly over.”
Price can foresee a not-too-distant future when traditional gas stations disappear, and a new style of business emerges in their place.
“I do think there is an opportunity for something like an energy supply depot, a place where you might get … gas and other fossil fuels if you need them,” he said.
“Maybe it’s a place you get other transit services [like fares], as well. Maybe it’s a place where you sign up for public bike share — a full utility.”
“When you go to places like Europe, certainly Asia, they’ve been through this before — high land values and very dense urban environments.  You see a very different way to get some gas. Sometimes it might just be a pump on the sidewalk,” said Price.

… downtown Vancouverites will have to drive the extra kilometres to tank up once the final station closes.
“Vancouver would be an exception, only that it’s so extreme because of land values,” said Price, whose only lament about the station closure is that he’ll lose another place to inflate his bike tires.


  1. The only European city I can think of that has centrally-located gas stations is Brussels. On an unrelated note, Brussels is one of the most congested cities on the continent.

  2. Just another symptom of the unchecked real estate speculation that drives Vancouver’s economy. I find it ironic that the most compact gas station site downtown, at Denman and Comox, was closed a few years ago and is now a surface parking lot!

    1. It’s called site remediation Bobby. Why do you think there is a 60 million dollar community garden at Burrard and Davie.

  3. Some entrepreneurial cyclist will probably get a cargo-cart and offer delivery service of gasoline to the downtown peninsula.

    1. Eric, your clear thinking astounds me – you are way ahead of the curve on this one. I am sure that few people in Metro Vancouver realize the potential of the cargo bike as you do. The European Cycling Federation has been researching and presenting on the merits of cargo bikes for several years and businesses are already realizing the cost saving of using cargo bikes – especially for last mile deliveries. The term “cargo bike logistics” is often used
      Even here is Vancouver, we have the thriving Shift cargo bike delivery service.
      Do keep the good ideas coming.

        1. You don’t need four lanes, just enough width for people to pass each other.
          The sporty crowd is traditionally opposed to bike lanes anyway. To them it’s just letting the cars win.

  4. This was first up on Global News twice (beating out even Trump and fires), once when the second last station closed, then a few days later when the last put up the hoarding. They even had a full crew on site both times. This is what passes for news these days.
    Land values are high downtown. So what? They are high everywhere, and it’s not all from speculation. Still, the median price of downtown apartments remains quite affordable. All the more reason to continue building a walkable community and save $50,000 on a downtown apartment by not purchasing an underground parking space with it.

  5. People are making too big a deal of the closures.
    Most people with cars who live downtown use their cars for driving OFF the downtown peninsula – so they typically have easy access at gas stations elsewhere.
    For those who drive onto the downtown peninsula for work – the same applies.
    The only people who will be caught out will be those who are careless and don’t watch their gas tank levels.
    Maybe there should be signs at the entry points to downtown like on the Coquihalla or other remote locations – “No gas stations in downtown Vancouver”
    This one is on the Trans-Labrador Highway:

  6. In Europe I have seen many gas stations on the ground floor in buildings with 4 or 12+ floors. i have never seen this in Canada.
    Gas stations, like grocery stores are a necessity, and as such many will remain, perhaps bigger than today and thus fewer overall, but gasoline cars are alive and well and will be around a few more decades. Maybe not downtown, or perhaps only 1 or 2. E-cars have still far too many obstacles, such as range, charge times and price and thus, comprise less than 1% of new cars. Of course, over time, with more hybrid cars, more e-cars and more fuel efficient cars we will see less, but not zero gas stations in cities.
    We might even see European style multi-story buildings with a gas station on the ground floor.

    1. I was under the impression that it wasn’t possible to put a gas station in a tall building because of the fire hazard. Maybe they do something differently there to make up for that. Or I’m wrong.

  7. In Scandinavia, gas stations are sometimes integrated into parking structures, which seems logical.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *