A report released from the B.C. Utilities Commission found an unexplained 13-cent difference in the wholesale price of gas between Metro Vancouver and the Pacific Northwest.
The commission was ordered by Premier John Horgan to determine why gas prices are higher in the province than in other jurisdictions.
Wholesale fuel is provided by four companies that provide 90 per cent of the gas and while the commission did not find any collusion, it noted that the market is an oligopoly.
The report also noted that if B.C. had to replace refined fuel currently supplied by the Trans Mountain pipeline, there would be inadequate infrastructure to transport and distribute fuel from any market other than Alberta.
However, Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok says that the report is hard to take too seriously when there were certain things, like taxation, that the commission was instructed not to consider.
“I have to be honest that above all things I believe the findings are a clear demonstration that John Horgan refuses to take responsibility for the mayhem his economic policies are causing. He has not in any way offered an explanation as to why our current gas reality is what it is and frankly British Columbians deserve the full picture when it comes to understanding why they are paying the highest gas prices in North America.
“My offices are receiving calls from constituents who are furious and they should be, given the fact that John Horgan rigged the review and handcuffed the BCUC.
“The review heard conclusive evidence from several respondents that taxes play a large role in the cost of gas in B.C., yet NDP taxation and other policies were off-limits to the commission, even though government plays a pivotal role in the price of gas, including opposing new pipelines to carry fuel. So instead of seeing action, British Columbians are faced with continuing to pay the highest gas prices in the country.
“Horgan needs to get off his hands and be a leader that takes responsibility and stop blaming others; the panel was clear there is no collusion and John Horgan knows he has the ability to reduce the price burden he has imposed upon us all if he wanted to but it would appear that he doesn’t.
“We are hearing from people across the riding how unfair this is compared to other provinces and they are sick and tired of it. For my constituents, who for the most part do not have access to public transit and drive long distances to many things, Horgan must immediately provide gas tax relief!
“As far as Vancouver gas prices go, if Horgan would temporarily suspend their provincial gas taxes they could save Vancouver drivers around $5 on an average tank of gas.”
“John Horgan and his government continue to tell everyone they have made life more affordable and that is just not true at least according to the people that I speak to in in our riding every day.”
The BCUC report suggested exploring price regulation as a next step, similar to what currently exists in the Maritime provinces and Quebec. Other recommendations for examination include opening up terminal infrastructure and ensuring more transportation and distribution infrastructure for refined flow.
There are two refineries in B.C. that account for approximately 30 per cent of all refined fuel in the province, while the restis imported.
The inquiry included submissions from companies such as Super Save Group, Parkland Fuel Corporation, Husky Energy,Shell Canada Limited, Suncor Energy, National Energy Board, Imperial Oil Limited and more.
Gas in Cranbrook and Kimberley is currently priced at $1.24/L, while Fernie is up slightly at $1.29/L.
With a file by Trevor Crawley