FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Owner of Gateway Esso and leader of B.C’s Conservative Party, Trevor Bolin, says he wasn’t surprised when the province announced they weren’t planning to follow Alberta’s lead and reduce its tax on gasoline to ease rising fuel costs.
“We’ve got a provincial government and federal government who firmly believe that in the next five to seven years, that there’ll be no automobiles sold that, that run off energy or natural resources, petroleum fuel. It isn’t realistic.” Bolin said.
Last week, in a news conference, British Columbia’s minister of public safety, Mike Farnworth, said there’s no simple solution to the rising fuel price situation.
He added that gas prices are driven by events outside of provincial control, like the conflict in Ukraine.
This response was in stark contrast to the response of the Alberta government, which reduced its tax by 13-cents per litre on both gasoline and diesel last week.
Bolin says the onus is on the provincial government to step up and support consumers.
“A majority of that is going in taxes, so to me, when I look at 41 cents of every litre going into taxes, there’s an immediate relief that the provincial government could offer.”
Bolin says its local fuel stations are bearing the brunt of increased fuel costs, and there isn’t much they can do to ease the costs to consumers.
“Margins in fuel are so small that, even if the station tried to drop it 10 cents a litre, that’s going to be a majority of their profit, and there goes paying staff and taxes and everything else that they do in the community” Bolin explained.
He broke down the expenses that factor into fuel costs for gas stations.
“It’s at $1.30 right now at rack rates. You’ve got 41 cents in tax, GST, delivery fees; whether that’s coming from Prince George, Burnaby, or even Edmonton, you’ve got 7 cents on a litre there. Actual hard costs right now are probably leaving fuel stations on the operators of fuel stations with about a 9 cent per litre profit on every fill-up of an F-150,” Bolin said.
Bolin believes a way to reduce fuel costs in the long term is to increase production to avoid fuel shortages.
“We need to focus on how we can ensure that more drilling is taking place in Alberta or here in Northern British Columbia so we can get ahead of the eight ball and we’re not going to see shortages come spring break or into summer, but we’re also not going to see $2.40 for every litre come summer,” Bolin said.
He says for that to happen, gas companies need to feel comfortable with expanding their infrastructure in B.C.
To view the full interview, click the video below.
Written with files from the Canadian Press.