A Look Back and Ahead for the ARA

In 2022, the Automotive Retailers Association (ARA) enjoyed a number of achievements through its events, initiatives, and partnerships. The ARA looks forward to continuing these efforts in order to further support the success of automotive entrepreneurs in B.C. in 2023.

2022 was a milestone year for the ARA. As COVID-19 restrictions eased across the province, the ARA was able to hold a number of in-person events, including the annual Women in the Automotive Industry event, the inaugural Collision and Glass Trade Show, and the highly anticipated 70th Anniversary Celebration and Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Whistler. The ARA also worked on various initiatives throughout the year. Here are some of the association’s 2022 highlights.

Women in the Automotive Industry

Attendees at the Women in the Automotive Industry event.

On May 5, 2022, the ARA hosted its annual Women in the Automotive Industry event in Burnaby, B.C. The goal of the event is to encourage women to recognize the opportunities available to them in the automotive service industry and take advantage of them. The event featured presentations from guest speakers including Murray Voth, president of RPM Training, who discussed the opportunities for women in the industry, and Cassidy Mceown, an auto body apprentice known for her role in the History Channel’s Rust Valley Restorers, who shared her experience as a woman in the business.

Collision and Glass Trade Show

On June 10-11, 2022, the Automotive Retailers Association held its inaugural Collision and Glass Trade Show at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel in Surrey, B.C. The theme of the trade show was “Industry is evolving, evolve with it.”

The show provided a forum for members of the glass and collision sectors to meet, learn about new tools and products, and stay informed on industry developments. Speakers from various organizations including AutoHouse Technologies, Simplicity Car Care, and eDirectGlass, shared their expertise with attendees. The event also featured a cocktail hour, dinner, and an introduction to the Pedal Car Challenge, when students and professionals who had built pedal cars presented them to the guests and other attendees. The second day of the event included the auto glass and collision repair divisions’ annual general meetings, and keynote addresses by Bob Beranek and Jeff Wildman.

2022 Skills Canada National Competition

2022 Skills Canada National Competition

The ARA took part in the 2022 Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC) in Vancouver on May 27 and 28. Skills competitions aim to engage youth in Canada and showcase the trades available to them, and the automotive industry well represented. Over 3,000 attendees, including students, industry representatives, businesses, educational institutes, and government officials attended the event.

The ARA’s goal is to encourage youth to recognize the career opportunities available to them in the automotive industry, and to raise awareness about the Automotive Retailers Foundation Inc.’s (ARFI) bursaries and scholarships, which have awarded a total of $15,000 to students pursuing careers in automotive in 2022. As always, the ARA aims to make the automotive industry a viable career choice for students.

70th Anniversary Celebration and AGM

The ARA held its 70th Anniversary Celebration and AGM at the Hilton Resort and Spa in Whistler, B.C., from September 28 to October 1. The event included a charity golf tournament, a luncheon with guest speakers, a chairman’s reception and casino night, an AGM, a display of milestone moments in the ARA’s history, a gala night with an award ceremony and scholarship recipients interview, a pedal car auction, and live entertainment. The ARA was pleased to celebrate members, vendors, and guests, as well as thank them for their contributions to the association and the industry. The event raised a record amount of $35,900 for the ARFI bursary and scholarship fund.

Ongoing and Upcoming Initiatives in 2023

Pedal Car Challenge

The Pedal Car Challenge is an educational program that promotes careers in the automotive industry to high school students in B.C. Students in the program design and build human-powered pedal cars over the course of a school year. The completed pedal cars were then showcased at events such as the ARA’s Women in the Automotive Industry and Collision and Glass Trade Show, and they were auctioned off during the ARA’s 70th Anniversary Celebration and AGM to raise funds for the ARFI bursary and scholarship fund.

The Pedal Car Challenge is run by the ARA in collaboration with its AutoCareersBC program and industry sponsors including Craftsman Collision, BASF, and Color Compass. The goal of the program is to inspire students to pursue careers in the automotive industry and provide them with valuable hands-on experience. The program teaches students skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, and time management, and AutoCareersBC gives them the opportunity to interact with professionals in the automotive industry.

Registration for the Pedal Car Challenge (2023) opened in December and is filling up quickly, demonstrating that this program has the potential to grow so much more in the years to come.

Work with Hon. Minister Farnworth

The ARA has been advocating for the automotive industry in B.C. for over 70 years. By collaborating with government representatives and sharing knowledge and data, the association has been able to address the concerns of our members. We are grateful to the Hon. Minister Mike Farnworth for working closely with us and showing our members that their government representatives are open to listening and making changes where necessary.

Farnworth’s commitment to creating a supportive environment for business owners and entrepreneurs to thrive is greatly appreciated. We also appreciate his recognition of the importance of the automotive industry to the economy of B.C. We look forward to continuing to work together in 2023 and achieving positive results.

Tax Exemption on Tools

The ARA is dedicated to achieving the best outcomes for the automotive industry. By collaborating with government representatives and gathering input from industry professionals at all levels, including members, business owners, apprentices, and industry relations advisors, we have conducted research, interviews, and analysis to support our goal of introducing a tax exemption on tools in B.C. in 2023. We believe this measure will provide a significant benefit to our industry. Keep an eye out as we roll out this initiative in early 2023.

ARA and ICBC Join Forces to Create LETS Program

ICBC and the ARA have created the Learning, Education, Training and Sustainability (LETS) program to help ensure that operators in the towing industry have the knowledge and confidence they need to safely handle electric vehicles (EVs). The program covers the cost of ARA online training courses focused on traffic control and the safe handling of EVs. The courses are comprehensive and take two to three hours to complete. They cover how EVs work, how to conduct a risk assessment, and how to safely load, secure, and store these vehicles.

Finally, ICBC will pay for any of its towing operator suppliers to complete both the EVfriendly Tow Operator and the Emergency Response Traffic Control for Tow and Recovery Operators online training courses. Courses must be completed by December 31, 2024, and are available to all active ICBC tow suppliers.


The ARA has developed the EVfriendly program to provide training on the safe handling of EVs to automotive service providers, including tow and recovery operators, auto recyclers, collision repair specialists, and mechanical repairers. EVfriendly is a program designed to help businesses transition into servicing EVs and address issues of safety, training, and consumer confidence in the transition to EVs. The EVfriendly program offers certification to both operators and businesses, which can be obtained by completing online modules.

It is important for those handling EVs to be aware of potential risks and receive proper training to ensure safety. While the program is currently only in B.C., EVfriendly’s project manager, Ken Hendricks, plans to roll out the program nationwide in 2023, demonstrating, yet again, that B.C. is a trailblazer in the Canadian automotive industry. Stay up-to-date on all things EVfriendly by following us on social media (@EVfriendly) and checking our website, evfriendly.ca.

Tax Exemption for Used ZEVs

The B.C. government has announced the elimination of Provincial Sales Tax (PST) on used zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) for the next five years, an incentive for which Ken Hendricks (ARA senior industry relations advisor) and Adrian Scovell (ARA president and CEO) have been advocating for over three years.

In a 2019 meeting with the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Petroleum Resources, they first proposed a PST exemption on used ZEVs, and from then on, they continued to work with the government, including meeting with the Hon. Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources, to encourage electric vehicle adoption. The tax exemption applies to both private and dealer sales, and it will be provided by the dealer or leasing company at the time of sale or lease, or by ICBC at the time of registration for a privately purchased or imported ZEV.

New Traffic Control Training for Towing Industry

In 2022, the ARA introduced comprehensive new traffic control training for the towing industry. The Emergency Response Traffic Control for Towing and Recovery Operators course is now available online for both new and experienced operators. The course covers traffic management principles for towing and recovery operations, and it helps the industry comply with new WorkSafeBC regulations, which classify tow truck operators as “emergency responders” when present at an emergency scene at a work zone with traffic control.

The course is broken into several modules and covers all the training required by WorkSafeBC. Employers must also conduct a practical assessment after the operator completes the online portion of the training.

CCR Program Evolution

The ARA’s Certified Collision Repair (CCR) program recognizes those in the industry who have invested in equipment and superior training. The ARA’s collision repair division has a plan to explore industry consolidation and certification strategies to help entrepreneurs grow. The CCR program has expanded beyond B.C. and is recognized by Saskatchewan Government Insurance as part of its Safe Quality Auto Repair Program.

The CCR program will continue to research how to introduce performance groups to those shop owners who want to benefit from exposure to peers and experts. In 2023, the ARA will continue to look at trends in other provinces, particularly through exchanges with sister associations in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

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The ARA is looking ahead with anticipation for all that 2023 has in store. The association has plans and projects in the works that we are excited to share with you. From events and initiatives to new projects, there is always something happening at the ARA. We encourage you to keep an eye on our social media channels and website, ara.bc.ca, for updates and announcements. We are constantly working to provide valuable resources and support to our members and the wider automotive industry, and we can’t wait to see what this year will bring.

Text and photos by Burhan Osman
Cover: A group shot of the ARA anniversary members at the 70th Anniversary Celebration and AGM in Whistler.