British Columbia

B.C. gas prices approach record levels after carbon tax increase

Metro Vancouver gas prices inched closer to record levels thanks to an increase to the provincial carbon tax that kicked in on Monday.

Prices hovering around $1.60/litre in Metro Vancouver and it's only going to go up, say experts

Drivers in Metro Vancouver are seeing prices at the pump approaching $1.60 per litre with the latest increase to the provincial carbon tax. (Associated Press)

Metro Vancouver gas prices inched closer to record levels thanks to an increase to the provincial carbon tax that kicked in on Monday.

The highest reported price at the pump Monday —  $1.59.9 per litre — is still four cents below the historic high of $1.63.9 set last year,  

But Dan McTeague, a senior analyst at GasBuddy.com, said even higher prices are on the way.

"We're quickly approaching the all -time high, and it's likely to surpass that by the end of the month or perhaps towards Easter," he said. 

On Monday, B.C.'s carbon tax increased from $35 to $40 per tonne, adding an additional 1.1 cent to the per litre price, which was already inflated due to a supply-squeeze related to shutdowns at two of the four refineries in Washington state which supply the province.

UBC business professor Werner Antweiler says the additional taxes and higher prices will motivate people to look for alternatives to driving gasoline-powered vehicles. 

"It will change both behaviour, as well as purchase decisions. People will eventually start buying more fuel-efficient vehicles as a result of high fuel taxes — whether it's a carbon tax or any other fuel tax," he said. 

"We have seen this over the years in British Columbia and in other countries where fuel taxes are actually much, much higher than in Canada or the United States."  

Another 1.5 cent per litre increase is coming on July 1, when the TransLink regional fuel tax goes up from 17 cents to 18.5 cents per litre.

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