EDITORIAL: the madness of gas prices

Parksville Qualicum Beach residents are paying the highest price for a litre of gas in the country

If you believe the Parksville Qualicum Beach area is home to the highest gas prices on the Island, you are only partly correct. Actually, they are the highest gas prices in the country.

Why that is happening and what to do about it, if anything, is another matter.

According to bcgasprices.com, a site that is updated seemingly every minute, regular gas cost $1.12.9/litre in Parksville on Tuesday morning, while it was at $1.16.9/litre at Qualicum Beach stations. The average cost for gas in the Regional District of Nanaimo is $1.13.9/litre and we cannot find a higher average price anywhere in the country (gas buddy.com), including the Northwest Territories.

In the regional district that includes Courtenay, the average price is $.98.6/litre. It’s $1.04.2 in the Victoria region, $1.05.2 on the North Island and $1.09.8 in Port Alberni.

If the volume and tone of letters and phone calls to our office are any indication, these numbers make some residents of Parksville Qualicum Beach very angry. Perturbed enough to waste any possible savings by driving to Courtenay to fill up.

They say they do it on principle. What that principle is, we have no clue. It’s no great surprise your local newspaper advocates the support of local business. These are our neighbours and friends.

We do not agree with, and will not publish letters to editor that advocate boycotts of any local business. We get those letters from time to time, aimed at local gas stations.

Hmmm, let’s see. How would purposely hurting a local business, which may have to lay off or reduce hours for employees, be a good course of action on any level?

You’re going to teach exactly who a lesson? Not likely.

Mike Ervin, senior VP at The Kent Group, has been studying petroleum pricing issues for 20 years. He tells us stations in smaller communities like Parksville and Qualicum Beach often have higher prices because they don’t pump as much gas as stations in larger urban areas. It’s a lot more complicated than that and if you’d like to learn more, spend some time on kentgroupltd.com.

Some people will poke holes in any explanation provided on gas pricing. It is truly difficult to understand the variances, to be sure.

However, aiming your vitriol at local gas stations seems counterproductive. Travelling somewhere to save 10-15 cents a litre is not environmentally friendly and does not save you money. And it means less gas gets pumped here, which limits a local station’s chances to reduce the price.

We do not know how we can get gas-price relief in Parksville Qualicum Beach, but we do know targeting your neighbour isn’t the answer.

— Editorial by John Harding