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Carbon tax kicks in as Metro Vancouver gas prices could soon hit $1.60/L

Last Updated Apr 1, 2018 at 1:14 pm PDT

(iStock, Photo)

The BC NDP's new provincial Carbon Tax kicks in today, which means gas prices are going up once again

The increase on gas prices will be 1.2 cents a litre a year for the next few years

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Do you remember the last time you paid for gas and it wasn’t over the $1.50/L a litre mark? It has been well over a month and prices have gone up again today thanks to the NDP’s hike to the carbon tax, which kicks in today.

The $5/t increase by the provincial government is being implemented right before the summer driving season when prices tend to spike anyway.

The increase will be 1.2 cents a litre a year for the next few years and that may not sound like a lot but Dan McTeague with GasBuddy.com says it’ll add up as he predicts the price at the pump may hit $1.60/L by mid-month.

“We’ve consistently been getting about 15 per cent of our gasoline needs [and] almost 50 per cent of our jet fuel from the BP Cherry Point Refinery [in Washington state] for our International Airport. Until we find another way to get fuel and there really is only one way and that’s building the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which will see an expansion of 55,000 barrels of potential gasoline, diesel and light fuel being able to make its way down… until that happens, the new normal is the highest prices in North America.”

He adds supply and demand is also straining things on the Lower Mainland. “As we saw with respects with greater demand and fewer opportunities for supply in our neck of the woods here, it has really left us in a chronic shortage position where it’s only met by higher prices.”

The domino effect of the carbon tax will hit your wallet harder because it may also start to impact the cost of things like groceries. The BC Trucking Association says about 90 per cent of all goods are transported on the back of a truck.

McTeague points out about 50 cents of every litre you pump into your car in Metro Vancouver is taxed — the most of anywhere in all of North America.

The average price across the country by the way is about $1.26/L. The most expensive price at the pump is in BC, while the cheapest is in Manitoba at $1.11/L.

The $5/t increase is a compromise the BC NDP struck with the Green Party, as the Green platform had originally proposed a $10/t annual increase. The carbon tax has been stuck around $30/t since 2012 as the previous BC Liberal government showed no interest to increase it further other than to match the federal carbon price floor in 2021.

The goal is to have BC achieve its 2050 emissions reduction target (80 per cent below 2007 levels by 2050.)

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Drivers feel ‘stuck’

With gas prices continuing to soar, many drivers say they’re looking into alternate modes of transportation, like taking transit or using a bike.

“I mean I guess I could probably SkyTrain a bit more to go to the office,” one woman tells NEWS 1130. “But do I want to? No, because it’s the convenience of the thing, right.”

She says drivers are being “held hostage” by gas companies, and isn’t the only one that feels robbed.

“I’m a renter and I can never usually really afford to actually purchase a home in that kind of sense,” Erin says. “I’m trying to save, but it is really tough.”

“It’s outrageous,” another motorist adds. “I try and avoid filling up as much as I can. If I had my passport I would go across the border, fill up there.”

However, while many struggle with the idea of paying more at the pump, Alberto — who moved here from Europe — says Metro Vancouver doesn’t have it all that bad.

“People are complaining here about gas prices, but they should live in Italy where you have like, it’s two euros a litre.”

Others are hoping the cost of gas will eventually come down, and are trying to keep an optimistic view. “Prices go up and down and you’ve got to pay what you’ve got to pay to drive around,” one man says.

But unfortunately, analysts don’t think that’ll happen any time soon, with predictions the cost of fuel may hit 1.60 a litre by mid month.

Drivers like Chase are looking to electric vehicles to get around. He says he just put a down payment on a Tesla.

“The faster we get off of these gas-guzzling cars, the better for the world. Better for us.”

Gas prices are up, so is gas theft: Delta Police

While prices at the pump have been going up, a certain type of crime has also increased.

Delta Police say they are noticing a slight uptick in fuel theft.

Police Chief Neil Dubord says if your car’s parked outside your home, you should be fine. The real worry is if you drive a truck and park it in an industrial area.

“We often hear about the diesel fuel being actually siphoned, rather than gasoline,” he tells NEWS 1130. “They’ll go into sort of a warehouse district, and to say Annacis Island or something, and they will hit commercial trucks that are parked for the weekend and not being used and siphon out hundreds of litres sometimes.”

He adds the problem has only gotten worse since prices started to spike this year.

“Where we are lucky in some of the industrial areas is most have cameras on their buildings, so usually the cameras do assist that, and at least gives us a vehicle description and usually a suspect description that we can follow up on.”

Dubord says he’s noticed an additional one or two fuel thefts a week since prices climbed.

While that may not sound like much, he points out it can be costly if a semi-truck is cleaned out.

Dubord says this is a good reminder to keep an eye on your fuel gauge and take note of when you last filled up.