EDITORIAL: the good and bad of falling oil prices for Parksville Qualicum Beach

Sure, it's a relief at the pumps, but there are wider considerations

There are good and not-so-good ramifications for the plummeting price of oil and the corresponding drop in the Canadian dollar for the people of Parksville Qualicum Beach.

The positives are most obvious. Pulling up to the pumps is a much less painful financial experience than it was even a month ago, never mind the $1.49/litre days of the summer. This means we can travel more freely and it also means goods and services can be delivered to us in a less expensive manner.

While it can take time to kick in, the drop in the Canadian dollar compared to the U.S. greenback could translate into more American tourists in our hotels, resorts, restaurants and shops. Every little bit helps in a service-industry-dominated economy like ours.

Even B.C. Ferries dropped its fuel surcharge, but, in typical fashion, that corresponded nicely with a fare increase.

The negatives to the price of a barrel of oil falling to less than $50 aren’t so obvious to the wider population.

There are many on this Island who look at Alberta with scorn. The professional protestors who drive their SUVs to pipeline or tanker protests may want to speak to some of their neighbours.

While it’s difficult to quantify with actual numbers, we are aware of many families in this region who derive most, if not all, of their income from the Alberta oil fields. You may know them, the families that are without mom or dad for a couple/few weeks every month.

These people take the money they earn in Alberta and buy houses in Parksville Qualicum Beach. They buys cars, groceries, clothes. They pay their property taxes and contribute to local organizations and charities.

If the price of oil stays at this level, many of these people will lose their incomes. That’s a big loss for the economy, and the tax base here.

Add to this the likely decline in Alberta-based tourists visiting our region and you might not be so gleeful about the $50 barrel of oil.

Like it or not, a strong Alberta is a positive thing for Parksville Qualicum Beach. But we can’t deny we enjoy the lower gas prices as we travel our beautiful Island paradise.

— Editorial by John Harding