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B.C. gas prices will likely continue to rise through summer: expert

Last Updated Jul 7, 2021 at 9:40 pm PDT

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The price of gas in B.C. won't go down before the end of the summer: expert

More people taking road trips is creating demand, supply issues also mean the trend is not in drivers' favour

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Many in B.C. are looking to hit the road this summer as COVID-19 restrictions ease, but one expert says that trip around beautiful British Columbia could cost a pretty penny.

Lindsay Meredith, Professor Emeritus in Marketing at SFU, doesn’t expect prices at the pump to drop anytime before September. And the pandemic has something to do with why.

“Traditionally we have a summertime cycle where prices, always spike. Why? We got a lot more people on the road. That got exacerbated by COVID, acctually, because a lot of other travel as in airplanes, and boat cruises, basically has not really reopened yet,” he explains.

“What’s the alternative? Everybody’s jumping in their car, car driving around. That’s eating up the gas, so that spikes demand.”

Supply issues are also exacerbating the season’s high prices, among them the closure of a major US refinery for repairs. Meredith says the basic economics just are not in drivers’ favour.

“Worst case scenario, I would certainly look for prices in the $1.80 range, higher maybe,” he says.

“Don’t look for much relief before probably the end of August, and that is when we get the back to school thing goes on, a lot fewer drivers on the road, and that should start to bring the price of gasoline down a bit,” he says.

The cost of filling up plunged early in the pandemic, with people staying off the road as they worked from home and avoiding social outings and travel altogether. Meredith says he thinks COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on commuting patterns.

“Are we going to revert to our old ways? With COVID cases going down, with vaccinations will we revert to our old behaviours? I frankly doubt it,” he says.

“Both employers and employees are quite happy to go to this new model. For employers that saves the cost of office space. For employees, it certainly saves time and money on that commute.”