Retail Fuel and Automotive

Design Services to Keep Vehicles and Retailers Running Smoothly

24.6 Million

Vehicles Registered For Road Use


Retail Gas Stations Coast-To-Coast1


Carwash Businesses2


Oil Change Businesses3

Did you know there are over 24.6 million vehicles registered for road use in Canada?4 Those cars, trucks and motorcycles all need a place to refuel, go for cleaning and have service work done. As you can see by the numbers above, it’s big business.

When new facilities are required – or upgrades and renovation are overdue – these businesses rely on the services of a professional engineering, architecture and design firm. Due to the complex nature of such design projects, and the unique challenges often involved in the permitting process, partnering with a firm that specializes in this sector will help mitigate risk and avoid costly delays due to oversight.

1Source: Canadian Fuels Association (2017 National Retail Petroleum Site Census)
2Source: IBISWorld. Car Wash and Detailing – Canada Market Research Report. 2018.
3Source: IBISWorld. Oil Change Services – Canada Market Research Report. 2018.
4Vehicle Registrations, 2017. The Daily. Published by Statistics Canada, 2018-06-15.

What Design and Engineering Services are Required?

As an independent owner, your fuel partner will typically provide a corporate design standard for your engineering and design team to follow. This will be tailored to your site by the design team and be submitted to the municipality for permitting approval. Unlike gas stations, carwashes often do not come with design standards – and are generally custom-designed to the site and equipment requirements.

Depending on your plans, you will require some or all of the following engineering services.


Fuel dispensers, carwashes and auto service infrastructure involves complex electrical systems. Experienced engineering and design firms understand the full range or wiring and service requirements.


You will need civil design expertise for all aspects of site development, including: fuel storage and hookups, utility tie-ins, traffic modelling and planning, site drainage and landscaping.


Experienced partners know the intricacies of designing mechanical systems for fuel and carwash systems, hydraulic lifts and HVAC.


Whether it is a new build or renovation, structural engineers confirm the integrity of all buildings and structures: from canopies to carwashes to convenience stores.

Architectural Services

An architect may be required if the design standard has to be altered to meet architectural controls. Architects can creatively adapt exteriors and signage to fit the requirements, while protecting your brand integrity in the process.

Permit & Zoning Applications

Anytime you are dealing with combustible fuels, sites dedicated to vehicle-oriented use, and the discharge of water containing chemicals you need a highly experienced project team that knows all the bylaws, code and regulations down to the finest detail.

Construction Management

No one knows your design and permitting requirements better. Which makes many design firms the ideal choice for managing construction on your behalf.

EV Charging

The switch to electric vehicles is underway. CTM is helping businesses adapt and introduce the required infrastructure. We manage all electrical engineering, site design, and permitting.

Renovating? Read this first


Renovating and upgrading an older store offers huge opportunities – yet can involve unexpected challenges. Go behind the scenes (and walls) of our GasKing redesign.

Find Out More

Stand Out! Canopies & Signage

Today, canopies aren’t just there to protect customers from the rain and snowfall. Gas station canopies act as beacons to attract customers on the darkest nights. They also house lighting and camera systems that provide a greater sense of safety and security. These functions all must be carefully considered when designing a canopy to your site. It’s important to get it right.

When it comes to permitting, canopies are treated as freestanding structures. In Canada, it is important that canopies be engineered for snow loads. [Click here for canopy design tips]

The In’s & Outs of Traffic Management

With a constant flow of traffic, retail fuel and automotive facilities need to be designed to handle vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Design and engineering firms rely on experience, municipal bylaws and traffic modelling software to help with planning. It is crucial to get this right in the planning stage, because once the site is built there is no turning back.

The site plan must be designed to ensure:

  • The ability for vehicles to safely enter and exit from the public roadways (ingress & egress)
  • Efficient cueing (stacking) in the forecourt area and carwash
  • Safe unloading of fuel by tanker trucks, with minimal disruption to customer traffic
  • An adequate loading zone for convenience store deliveries
  • Unobstructed access for service vehicles (e.g. garbage trucks)
  • Short-term customer parking
  • Curbs and bollards to protect pumps and buildings
  • Safe pedestrian access
  • Drive-thru access that accommodates vehicles of all sizes
    [Learn More]

Fueling and Carwash Technology:
Do You Really Need The Latest and Greatest?

Does it make sense to invest in the latest technology, or will lower cost solutions meet the needs of customers for the foreseeable future? Alternatively, is there a risk of investing in old equipment that will soon be out of step with the competition?

These are questions that can be addressed in the early design stage. For most independents, it’s less crucial to be at the leading edge than to focus on proven equipment that offers great value and worry-free operation over time.

How Many Pumps Do You Need?

How do you determine the optimum number of fuel pumps for your station? The average fuel pump dispenses 1 to 1.5 million litres of fuel annually. Now that you know that, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How many pumps will my site plan allow? The size, layout, access, and buildings will largely determine how many pumps you can physically put on your site.
  2. What traffic volumes do I anticipate? Often this information can be provided by a municipality or be gathered through a traffic count. In planning, your design partner will want to determine how many vehicles you can efficiently move during peak hours.
  3. Will traffic volumes change in the future? A cardinal rule of design is to plan ahead. It is far more cost effective to build/accommodate for infrastructure in advance than to renovate and rebuild down the road.
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Choosing a Fuel Management System

There are many options when it comes to choosing a fueling system to monitor inventory and meet local fire code requirements. Which is right for you?

First, start by determining what features and functionality you require. Electronic or statistical line leak detection? Non-discriminating sensors that simply measure fluid levels or discriminating sensors that can differentiate between ground water and leaked product? Business Inventory Reconciliation? Tank mapping? The ability to access information on a mobile device?

Next, determine how many dispensers you’ll need to monitor. Ensure your system can grow with you if you expand operations – and adapt with changing regulatory requirements. [Click here to learn more].

Clean up With Your Carwash

Canada is home to 3,181 carwash businesses, generating a combined $473m in annual revenue, according to 2018 data from IBISWorld.

For the most part, carwashes do not follow pre-existing design standards. They are drawn up on a site-by-site basis. Working with a design firm that has completed hundreds of projects is a distinct advantage, because they are not starting your project from page one.


Carwashes face strict permitting requirements around water use and discharge. Many towns and cities are now insisting on water reclamation systems. Municipalities are also concerned about safe traffic flow. Carwash design specialists understand this, and work closely with the municipality to ensure your design passes inspection with minimum delay.


Carwash design specialists have worked with multiple carwash systems. Based on the projected size of your carwash bay, they can provide upfront advice on the types of systems that will work for you, and put you in touch with reputable equipment providers.

Cardlocks and Bulk Plants

Cardlock facilities and bulk plants involve many of the same design, engineering and permitting considerations as retail fuel facilities, with some more advanced requirements around monitoring.

Design and engineering firms that regularly work in the retail fuel sector will often have parallel experience with cardlocks and bulk plants.

Meeting Architectural Controls

All gas stations follow similar plans and look alike, right? Not necessarily.

If you’re building in a community or development with architectural controls in place, you may need input from an architect.

Many full-service design firms offer both engineering and architectural services in-house. They are skilled at tastefully adapting the building exteriors and signage of known brands to fit in with the look and feel the community is trying to project.

[Read: 7 Secrets to Working with Architectural Controls]

Pump up The Volume

Research shows that when vehicles are facing your convenience store during fuelling, people are more likely to come in and spend. That is why your forecourt should always be in front of the store entrance.

Experience: Where The Rubber Hits The Road

In the early 90s, Canada’s leading fuel retailers started outsourcing the design work for their retail and bulk fuel service outlets. Seizing an opportunity, CTM became the primary service provider for Petro-Canada. Today, a large number of the Shell, Esso, Husky, Fas Gas and Petro-Canada stations you see across Ontario and Western Canada were designed by CTM. Our expertise extends to garages, lube shops and carwashes. Let us put our expertise to work for you.

CTM’s Integrated Design, Engineering and Architectural Services

  • Site planning
  • Electrical, mechanical, structural and civil engineering
  • Landscape design
  • Architecture and interior design
  • Fueling systems
  • Concept design (architectural drawings & 3D models)
  • Floorplan design and space utilization
  • Fuel and carwash equipment sourcing
  • Canopy and signage design
  • Drive-thru planning and traffic modeling
  • Architectural control consulting
  • Development and construction permits
  • And much more
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