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Impact of Zoning Bylaw Amendment Would be Significant for Victoria New Car Dealers

Car dealerships need to store vehicles to sell vehicles. That is the nature of our business.

Despite this obvious fact, without any consultation with or direct notice to property owners and automobile dealers, City of Victoria Council will meet Thursday evening to consider Third Reading on a Zoning Bylaw Amendment (Bylaw No. 80-159) that would effectively prevent the majority of dealer’s principal locations and offsite properties from being used as vehicle storage lots.

We find it particularly troubling that the decision to fast-track this decision will take place in the final meeting of the current mayor and council, most of whom are not seeking re-election.

In real terms, passage of this bylaw would effectively mean that the second a dealership is bought or sold they won’t have any storage options for vehicles. But there are much broader implications, as enacting the Bylaw would most certainly result in the slow migration of existing Victoria dealerships to other municipalities, and negatively impact the prospect of new dealerships opening in the city moving forward.

At present, more than ten new car dealerships call Victoria home, with a typical dealership employing 40 people, an annual payroll of $3 million, each contributing more than $100,000 in property tax – while also supporting dozens of suppliers, distributors, trades people and local companies every day. Not to be discounted is the number of customers dealerships draw from surrounding areas over the course of the year, many of whom subsequently purchase goods, services or meals at Victoria businesses.

The vehicles we store are increasingly electrified, the inventory is rotated frequently and the land on which they sit remains available for a more lucrative future.

The economic impact of a car dealership in a municipal area is often undervalued and moving this Bylaw forward would simply confirm that fact in Victoria.

On behalf of our members in Victoria, the New Car Dealers Association of BC urges Mayor and Council to reconsider this bylaw amendment or at the very least defer any decision until a new Council has been elected and there is an opportunity for fulsome debate and consideration of this matter.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at bqualey@newcardealers.ca