Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Speaking Notes To The Standing Committee on Community Affairs and Economic Development

Thank the Committee for allowing me the opportunity to speak
(Hand out Loblaw application for gas dealers license 3 full binders)
(Click on the AIMS Guzzling Gas Regulation Gauge and leave it live on the screen http://www.aims.ca/gasregulation.asp?cmPageID=481)
My name is Tim Banks
Lifelong resident of Prince Edward Island and quite proud of that
Spend about 6 months a year in Tracadie Beach and the other 6 months in Charlottetown
CEO of the APM a Canada-wide construction and development company with our head office in Prince Edward Island
As such I have completed 1,000’s of projects, in 100’s of Communities, in excess of a billion dollars
Today I would like to speak as a private citizen who is concerned about where the direction of our Island is going
I would like to speak about Jobs, Investment and Choice for Islanders
My first paid job was a “service station attendant” or gas pump jockey at age 10 at our family business Bob’s Fina Service Station
At age 14 I travelled with my Dad to a PEI Gas Dealers Association meeting in Charlottetown so I had a small insight into this association
There was a Summerside chapter and it controlled who opened on week nights and the weekends on a 3 week rotation
At age 15 my Dad entered Camp Hill Hospital with terminal cancer and I quit school in grade 9 to run our family business with my Mom and one other employee
I was only 15 when Les Fitzgerald a customer and prominent contractor call me at home on a Sunday needing gas “to catch a boat”
I ran down, opened up and filled him and a few other cars in the span of 20 minutes and then headed home
The next morning two of the “dealer’s” showed up and “threatened and intimidated” a 15 year old for not telling our customer to go elsewhere
That situation “ended” my relationship with the status quo as I abandon all their “rules” and opened late every day and night as a “free enterprise”
Every single car that showed up at our tanks, I washed their windows, I checked their tires, oil, fan belt, etc... service was the top priority
With more hours our business flourished, we hired more people and we created enough value to sell the business and I found my way back to school
It was a great job and I still have fond memories of “pumping” gas and all the experiences that go along with it including my passion for cars
My parents always drilled home the notion of “service – trust – value” something that has followed me along my way
But where have all these jobs gone? .... I believe they have gone to “regulation”... (price control over service)
I believe that not knowingly IRAC are responsible for a big part of that job loss...
I believe that not knowingly IRAC are responsible for a significant loss in tax investment with far too often the closings of “service stations”...
I believe that not knowingly IRAC are responsible for a significant loss in new tax investment for not allowing new gas bars to be developed...
I believe that not knowingly IRAC are responsible for not allowing “choice” for Island consumers...
For example on a number of occasions I have acted for Companies trying to open new gas bars here but I can’t get past “go” due to the regulatory process...
Not long ago I acted for Loblaws to build a gas bar in Summerside... with plans for 3 others,
Sobeys, Canadian Tire, Walmart also had interests.... Sobey’s even formally applied for Stratford...
Meeting with Don Southerland we were told the “climate is right” but follow process...
Application process cost roughly $30,000...
During that process the Premier’s executive offered to sell his license...
After a six month process we didn’t meet the “test”...
We didn’t get to “invest” $1,000,000.00 in Summerside...
We didn’t get to create the new “jobs” that go with the operation...
We didn’t get to offer inducements or rebates back to food customers to lower their weekly living expenses...
We didn’t get to create the construction “jobs” in building the facility...
We didn’t get to offer the consumer the “choice” of new products and services...
We didn’t get to provide an annual tax base to the City of Summerside who gave us a permit...
We didn’t get to prove to National Companies that PEI is “open for business”...
The only real opposition to our application was the gas dealers association and with a declining membership why wouldn’t they want new members?
We were turned down again... in spite of what IRAC’s officials had lead us to believe...
IRAC ruled that the application did not properly address the legislative test of “public interest, convenience and necessity”...
Public interest... Superstore wars... (expand on comment) I was the only one at the hearing but yet when the Superstore opened it broke "shopping records"....
Looking for an explanation I set up a meeting with Premier Binns with the hope of some directional changes to IRAC...
He gave me the same old song and dance his three predecessors gave me... “this could put the little rural stations out of business..”
Earlier I told you I live 6 months in “rural” PEI... Tracadie Beach for the last 20 years....
I would like to bring the following slide to your attention... (review the slide)
Six stations are closed, the jobs gone, the investment are gone and the choices are gone...
And guess what Premier Binns and your predecessors “the little rural stations are going out of business anyway”...
IRAC couldn’t save them... and I believe their “rules” buried them...
An example would be “self serve” (use Howatt’s Tourist Mart)... the loss of jobs and choice... the setting of prices
Why can’t Howatt’s send someone out to the pump to “service” the customer without running afoul to “silly” rules...
An example would be “price regulating”... why couldn’t MacMillan’s Clover Farm sell gas at cost to attract customers to his store as a lost leader...
Because IRAC and its Red Tape Regime diminish the general principals of “free enterprise” and stifle Islanders from moving ahead in their everyday lives... that is why..
A person can make the biggest commitment of their lives the act of marriage and all they require is a license a one page document and they don’t have to prove “public interest, convenience and necessity”... although it seems to be a reasonable test for a marriage but “not a gas bar”..
I’m not going to get into why I believe a bunch of political appointments at IRAC have no more control over the price of West Texas Intermediate on the New York Mercantile than I have at changing the weather... but every couple of weeks Islanders get the brunt of their wisdom something that might be better off coming from an Ouija Board...
I’m not going to get into why I believe a bunch of political appointments at IRAC have no business interfering into routine transfers of ownerships of commercial and private property... but every day they put Islanders through the test and expense of such silliness...
I’m not going to get into why I believe a bunch of political appointments at IRAC have none of the right qualifications to deal with planning and zoning regulations... but every day they’re “used” as a stop measure by mostly frivolous groups to prevent progress at the expense of someone trying to do something...
I’m not going to get into why I believe a bunch of political appointments at IRAC have no experience and qualifications for the tasks in which they are charged to carry out... I can’t imagine how a lay group of ladies and gentlemen qualify to rule on such sophisticated issues and I could go on but in essence how did they qualify for the job... politically, no other way... so whose interest do they have in mind Islanders or the Governing parties?
I’m concerned about PEI’s economic future,
I’m concerned about over regulation and how it impacts our economy,
Introduce the “over governed” slide (Cape Breton vs. PEI) see http://timbanks.ca/pics/overgoverned.jpg
IRAC have had their day.... you as commission members are charged with bringing some new ideas and changes to our Community Affairs and Economic Development something that IRAC fails to do and their excuse is always they are doing what is directed at them.... it’s time for a change, a change to fresh ideas, and a time to step up and make it easier and cheaper for Islanders to get along in their everyday lives....
- Spend less time on policing things we can’t control like the price of gas..
- Send a message that PEI is “Open for Business”
- Relax the “regulations and red tape” in Islanders everyday lives
- Develop a business plan with an “open mind” of moving forward
- Develop a “free enterprise spirit” and let Islanders decide the market
Mr. Chairman is there any questions your committee would like to address?
Thank you for giving me the opportunity of presenting my views as I have the most heartfelt passion in helping every Islander young and old to pursue their dreams here on Prince Edward Island the place I love...

3 comments:

Ritchie Simpson, The Mortgage Guy said...

Be careful what you wish for, IRAC does more than regulate gas prices and we may complain about how its done now but if there were no regulation they would complain about how it that was done.
IRAC also protects and administers various other pieces of government legislation provides a valuable if obscure role as an effective Ombudsman and can serve to protect individuals from capricious decisions by government where no other recourse is available. I agree it has gotten to "big-for-its-britches" but it needs fixing not killing.

Anonymous said...

"Islanders get the brunt of their wisdom something that might be better off coming from an Ouija Board..."

Tim, I'm shocked by this accusation! Don't you know that the Ouija Board IS where their wisdom comes from???

Anonymous said...

Tim,This is a one sided story. Sobey's are the most ruthless group in the maritimes, if not the country. I think we should thank the government for limiting their involvment in PEI. Sobey's keep their employees under a certain number of hours to avoid benefits and they make unbeleivable profits at the same time. Yes they have a right to run their business as they see fit, but people are slowly seeing how they treat others and are turning away. Any proud islander should want to see islanders treated fairly by government and by big business. Your blog is more about business for business than islanders for islanders. Seems Sobey's and Loblaws are trying to buy an island spokeman...they get the business and APM gets the construction contracts. I'd much rather visit a mom and pop operation like your parents had than some big outlet without an airhose, can't check your oil and you serve yourself. These outlets the big companies want to build have absolutely no service or personality. I'm not trying to slam you personally, as I think you are a great businessman and islander, but your blog is biased.