Vancouver hardest hit by soaring gas prices
Updated Fri. May. 18 2007 10:23 PM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
As motorists fill their tanks for the long-weekend haul, gas prices are up around the country with Vancouver being the hardest hit by the petrol price hike.
The average price at a Vancouver pump on Friday is $1.27 a litre for regular unleaded gasoline.
The continuous rise in prices has spurred motorists in the city to make a switch from their vehicles to public transit, according to The Globe and Mail.
From January to April, Vancouver's Translink system saw an 11-per-cent increase in ridership on its lightrail service while the rest of the system saw a 3-per-cent rise.
National public transit use is reported to be at an all-time high, according to the Canadian Urban Transit Association.
Experts contend that while the environment may be a motivating factor for public transit use, the benefits are harder to see.
A price increase at the pumps is more likely to impact a consumer's wallet, prompting them to think about transit alternatives.
"I think in some ways environment still takes a back seat to a lot of people," he sad "You think you can put up with smelly air and you can't really see the immediate impact of what you're doing, but you can see the gasoline prices, Drew Snider, Translink spokesperson, told The Globe.
Prices were up an average of five cents a litre in the Toronto area Friday morning to about $1.10 a litre, while prices in Thunder Bay rose to around $1.20 a litre.
The hike was even bigger in Halifax, where the price jumped 7.2 cents a litre
Gas industry representatives maintain the long weekend price hike theory is a myth.
The summer months bring an increase in the amount Canadians drive compared to the summer with Victoria Day marking the unofficial start to cottage season. More motorists on the road and driving for long distances means demand is much higher in summer the summer months.
For this year, gas price increases are also due in part to higher-than-usual levels of maintenance at refineries in North America, which have caused an unprecedented seasonal production decline.
Ontario Energy Minister Dwight Duncan called on the federal government to give the Competition Bureau more power to investigate price fixing and gouging at the pumps.
The bureau also needs more power to request documents to determine if price fixing or gouging is actually taking place, he said.
"The time it takes even to launch an investigation into these things doesn't deal with the real concerns motorists have about short-term spikes in prices,'' Duncan told The Canadian Press.
"The (competition) act and the process are really stacked against ever finding out that there is collusive behaviour or in fact gouging going on.''
At a press conference on Thursday in Waterloo, Ont., Prime Minister Stephen Harper maintained the federal government is not looking at reducing gasoline taxes, despite a pledge first made in the 2004 election campaign.
"We became convinced that, quite frankly, there was a limited amount we could do in terms of helping consumers specifically with gas prices," Harper said at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ont.
"That's why; instead, we decided to cut consumption taxes more generally to help consumers in that way."
According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, taxes account for about 33 per cent of the price of gas at the pumps.
Harper blamed high gas prices on demand surpassing supply. He said a long-term solution would be to reduce the need for oil-based products, and urge consumers towards more sustainable fuels.
With files from the Canadian Press