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Posted: April 4, 2020

MLA presses minister about gas price fluctuations

Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok has written to B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources Bruce Ralston, seeking answers about recent price fluctuations at the gas pumps in the southeast of the province.

Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok

Clovechok said he would like to know what is the ministry doing to investigate the current fuel price fluctuations?

He also asked, “with gasoline prices unfairly impacting British Columbians during this emergency period, will the government use emergency measures to regulate prices during this COVID-19 pandemic?”

Clovechok set the table for the minister at the outset of his letter.

“Over the past month, Columbia River-Revelstoke, along with many regions across British Columbia, have seen a decrease in gasoline prices as a result of the low demand for oil around the globe. On average, prices have fallen roughly 15 cents per litre. However, our region of the province has seen unusual fluctuations in gas prices that have my constituents rightly concerned.

“For example, in Invermere, we see a 49 cent price difference between regular and premium gas at the same gas station. On top of this, different gas stations within the community are selling gas at vastly different prices, in some cases differing up to eight cents per litre.

“Other communities have not seen the same decrease in prices. In Revelstoke, regular gasoline currently costs up to 109 cents per litre; however, just 70 km away in Sicamous, regular-grade gas is as low as 87.9 cents. These are stark differences, and my constituents are left without answers as to why these fluctuations exist.

“We recognize that unusual gas prices are not new to B.C.; we have some of the highest prices in the country, and there has been little explanation as to why. With hopes of providing some explanations, the provincial government passed a bill in November that aims to provide answers to British Columbians about our prices, called the Fuel Price Transparency Act (FPTA). According to the Government’s November news release, the “act was developed in response to the [BC Utility] Commission’s investigation that found an unexplained 10- to 13-cent-per-litre premium charged at the pumps in British Columbia.”

“Under the administration of the BCUC, the FPTA requires companies to share data related to both wholesale and retail gas prices to hold companies more accountable for unexplainable price markups. As you said, “it’s time to pull back the curtain on fuel pricing.”

MLA Clovechok pointed out in his April 2 letter that residents in his constituency are “entitled to know why these enormous fluctuations in prices exist, and the government, through this new act, has the ability to find out. Provinces also have the ability to regulate gas prices and several other provinces have already done so.

“This COVID-19 pandemic is bringing a financial crisis to many families in my constituency and across the entire province. I would like to see what solutions we can bring to British Columbians to make sure everyone can still afford the price of gas, especially during these difficult times.”

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