Coun. Greg Blanchette believes a Smart Fuelling communications initiative is industry pushback against Tofino's plans to place climate change warning labels on local gas pumps.

Tofino councillor alleges greenwashing

Blanchette cautioned he’d heard of Smart Fuelling and was wary of its intentions.

An organization is coming to pitch its fuel-conserving communications strategy to Tofino’s municipal council but at least one councillor might not be too receptive to the message.

Smart Fuelling is a nation-wide coalition of fuel-related retailers that dishes out educational materials, like stickers and pamphlets, touting fuel conservation tips like: driving under the speed limit, maintaining adequate tire pressure and planning routes strategically to limit travel distances.

During a recent regular meeting, council reviewed a letter from the organization requesting an opportunity to present its initiative to council.

“Our coalition members operate retail fuel and convenience store locations within Tofino, and across Canada. As local retailers with national breadth, they are uniquely positioned to disseminate messages about smart transportation fueling to the many members of your community who visit their locations regularly,” the letter read.

“We are proud that the Smart Fuelling messaging is built on positivity and the sharing of tangible ways in which Canadians can reduce their emissions, save money and help the planet. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and key officials from your office to discuss ways in which we can work with you and your colleagues of Tofino to implement the Smart Fuelling concept in your community.”

Coun. Greg Blanchette said he is always open to inviting anyone to present to council but he cautioned that he’d heard of Smart Fuelling and was wary of its intentions.

He noted council has signed on to Toronto-based organization Our Horizon’s idea of putting climate change warnings on local gas pump nozzles and suggested conversations he has had with Our Horizon have led him to believe Smart Fuelling is a form of industry pushback.

“They have mentioned that this Smart Fuelling initiative is an industry pushback and, in fact, a greenwashing of the initiative that Our Horizon wants to do,” he said.

“Our Horizon wants to put climate change warnings on gas pump handles and Smart Fuelling wants to basically water that down into feel good tips for fuel efficiency or whatever. That’s fine, that’s industry pushback; that’s the way it works, but I just want to point out that it’s essentially a greenwashing operation.”

Coun Ray Thorogood disagreed.

“I just think it’s common sense what they’re proposing,” he said. “They’re giving motorists tips…I don’t feel it’s a greenwashing at all.”

Mayor Josie Osborne suggested letting the organization speak for itself and council agreed to invite Smart Fueling to a future council meeting.

“Perhaps we could hear directly from them,” Osborne said. “We’ll invite them and hear from them.”

During the meeting’s open question period, Blanchette was asked by the Westerly to define greenwashing.

“That’s when, typically, industry wants to look green for, kind of, public relations purposes so they dress up an initiative so it looks and sounds green without actually being green,” he responded.