British Columbia

Metro Vancouver gas prices hit $1.50 per litre, nearing all-time record

Region hasn't seen prices this high since 2014, analyst says — and they could hit $1.60 this summer

March 07, 2018

Gas prices tipped over the 150-cent mark in Vancouver on Wednesday morning. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)
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Gas prices in parts of Metro Vancouver have tipped past the $1.50 mark, prices the region hasn't seen in nearly four years — and they could rise even higher.

The cost at the pumps spiked Wednesday morning, with more than half a dozen stations in Vancouver displaying a 150.9 price tag.

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That's up 20 cents in two weeks, according to GasBuddy.com. The last time the region saw prices this high was July 2014.

Prices at a station on Victoria Drive in Vancouver hit 150.9 cents on Wednesday. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Dan McTeague, who watches Canadian prices for GasBuddy, said the jump has happened for a number of reasons, but largely because a refinery in Burnaby is undergoing renovations and driving a supply problem.

In the meantime he said fuel from other refineries, including those in San Francisco, is being shipped to B.C. at a premium.

McTeague said the refinery is expected to stay closed for about another month, but the re-opening won't necessarily mean a price drop.

$1.60/litre 'quite likely'

He said this week's prices are in line with the site's broad predictions for the calendar year. That schedule is forecasting an average price of $1.52 in Metro Vancouver this spring and a jump to $1.60 for certain days in the summer. 

Prices past 154.9 will be an all-time record for the region.

"Anything above that will put us in territory we've never seen here," said McTeague. "It's likely that could happen... if they can be this high at his time, you can imagine the changeover from winter to summer.

"It all makes something that makes the prospective $1.60 not something that's improbable, but in fact quite likely."

Gas prices in Metro Vancouver will remain high for the foreseeable future, one analyst says. (Denis Dossman/CBC)

The analyst said the weak Canadian dollar and increasing taxes are also fuelling higher gas prices.

He warned that drivers shouldn't expect a break any time soon — or any time in "the forseeable future."

"The days of under $1.40-a-litre gasoline are over," he said.

Non-profits squeezed

Such a prediction casts a pall on the summer plans of a children's charity that serves more than 12,000 kids throughout the province.

Carolyn Tuckwell, president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast B.C., says paying more at the pump will impact everything from food expenses to day trips to parks and beaches.

"Every time the prices go up it means we're spending more, and we're not really in a position to directly pass that on to the families that are using our programs," Tuckwell said. 

"It will come out of our bottom line — the result being that we will be squeezing and cutting from other places."

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Blaine businesses booming

South of the border, Blaine, Wash. gas station owners like Mike Hill are reaping the benefits of the high prices.

He says his gas is sold at 97 cents per litre — yes, he does advertise his prices in metric — and business is booming.

"Honestly, as [the price] has creeped up, we're probably up 20 per cent over last year," he told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko. "We welcome all the Canadian customers!"

Mike Hill's gas station in Blane, Wash. makes it very easy for Canadians to compare prices. (Anita Bathe/CBC)

He says serving Canadians — who he estimates make up 90 per cent of his customers — has kept his family's station in business for over 100 years.

While the number of Canadians ebbs and flows, there is a definite recent uptick that is helping support many local businesses, he said.

"We're here to catch as many of them as we can," he said.

With files from Michelle Ghoussoub, CBC Radio One's B.C. Almanac and On The Coast

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