IRAC gives approval to second gas outlet for Stratford

The Guardian
November 23, 2010

Stratford drivers will have a second choice of where to get their gas after the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission approved a licence for a new gas station.

IRAC issued its decision last week and Karbrennal’s Company Inc.’s application for a licence won out over one by Stratford Petroleum that could have potentially seen competing stations built next to each other on Jubilee Drive next to the Trans-Canada Highway.

But after more than nine months, including a hearing that lasted several weeks, IRAC decided to grant only one licence and chose Karbrennal.

Bob Carmichael, who owns Karbrennal and the Cornwall Esso, said Monday he still has to meet with the commission to finalize details, but he is looking forward to opening a new station in Stratford.

“We’re quite excited, to say the least,” he said.

The new station will be built on Jubilee and Shakespeare Drives, but Carmichael said he hasn’t finalized which brand the story will open under.

“We haven’t signed any deals with suppliers yet.”

In its ruling, IRAC sited Carmichael’s years of experience in the industry as one of the factors in its decision.

The commission also said a large number of Stratford residents surveyed by the applicants wanted a new station and although there seems to be enough demand for one more station, the approval of a second would have been bad for all three.

Carmichael said he hopes to meet with IRAC later this week to discuss the licence, but once all the details are worked out he wants to see work start on the new station in the spring.

“I think realistically we’re looking at opening in early summer,” he said.

Because a supplier hasn’t been determined yet, the design plans haven’t been finalized either, Carmichael said, but added he thinks the station will have either three or four gas pump islands.

“Sometimes it’s determined by what your offer is,” he said.

Doug MacDonald opposed the application on behalf of Cape D’or Holdings, which owns the Stratford Esso and although he had spoken out against the proposed stations, he spoke highly of Carmichael who he said was a good businessman.

“He’s a good operator in Cornwall and I’m sure he’ll make some customers happy in Stratford,” MacDonald said.

Although he knows the new station will affect Stratford Esso’s business, MacDonald said the business will survive the added competition.

“I think we’re positioned pretty well in that market,” he said.

APM president Tim Banks, who also testified during the licensing hearing, said the whole process of applying for gas station licences is a silly process.

“We need to breed competition, not stop it and IRAC is famous for stopping competition,” he said.

Banks compared the process to the lottery and said other applicants before Karbrennal were denied licences in Stratford, but this time someone was lucky enough to get one.

“On P.E.I. there is nothing wrong with a free enterprise system and the market will dictate who survives and who doesn’t.”


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