British Columbia

How high gas prices are affecting the lives of British Columbians

With gas prices showing no signs of going back down soon, CBC News spoke with three B.C. residents about how the cost of fuel is affecting them and how they're trying to save money.

3 residents describe the knock-on effects as some Metro Vancouver gas stations go past $2.30 a litre

A driver fills up with gas in Surrey, B.C. Gas prices in most places in the province are around $2 per litre, with some stations in Metro Vancouver hitting $2.23 a litre the week of May 9. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Drivers across British Columbia are feeling the pain at the pumps as gasoline prices continue to rise. 

Gas prices in most places in B.C. are hovering around $2 per litre, with some stations around Metro Vancouver hitting $233.9 cents per litre this weekend, according to gas price tracker Gas Wizard. This marks some of the highest prices in the country.

According to the Canadian Automobile Association, the average prices of gas in B.C. a year ago was $1.49 a litre.

Gasoline prices have spiked as oil tops $100 US a barrel, in part because of supply disruptions related to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The higher prices also come as the reopening of the economy has led to high demand for gasoline that refiners have limited capacity to meet.

With gas prices showing no signs of going back down soon, CBC News spoke with three B.C. residents about how the cost of fuel is affecting them and how they're trying to save money.

Less time with friends, family

Surrey, B.C., resident Amy Martin says she and her husband Rob have been using their cars less as gas prices climb.

Martin says a few years ago, they both bought the Nissan Versa because it's small and fuel efficient. But now, she says, it typically costs around $70 every week-and-a-half to fill up her tank when it used to cost closer to $50. 

Martin, a self-employed therapist who works with children with autism, says she's choosing clients who live nearby so she can walk or take transit to work instead. 

Surrey, B.C., resident Amy Martin (left) pictured here with her husband Rob and two daughters, Niamh and Róisín. Martin says she now tries to walk to work as much as possible with the rising cost of gas. (Submitted by Amy Martin)

She says she recently cancelled her daughter's dance lessons in Richmond because the journey there and back was costing too much.

The one thing that has been the most difficult for Martin, she says, is not being able to visit family and friends who live in other parts of the Lower Mainland as frequently as she'd like to, especially now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.

"[It's] one more layer of kind of added struggle for us right now," she said. "That's been really hard with the increased price of gas."

Selling up

East Vancouver resident Jessica Crawford says she's considering selling her car next month if gas prices stay high.

Crawford says it costs her around $100 to fill up the tank of her Chevy Equinox. She says she's trying to limit her driving, such as only commuting to and from work in Burnaby, which takes around 20 minutes. 

She says she's been taking transit more often to get to the Canada Post depot where she works as a letter carrier, but that can add up to an extra hour to her commute. 

Vancouver resident Jessica Crawford works as a letter carrier for Canada Post. She says she's trying to use transit more to get to work, but it can add up to an hour to her commute. (Submitted by Jessica Crawford)

"I know it could be a lot worse, but I'm really, really having to ration my driving," she said.

Travel plans on hold 

Nanaimo, B.C., resident David Ball says it used to cost him around $70 to fill up his Dodge Minivan every two weeks, and now it's around $120.

Ball says he and his wife Charlene try to run as many errands as they can in one trip so they don't have to drive as often.

Nanaimo resident David Ball, who retired three years ago, says he's put plans to do a road trip across Canada on hold because of surging fuel costs. (Ashley Moliere/CBC News)

Ball, who retired three years ago, says he and his wife had plans to do some road trips across Canada but the cost of gas has put those plans on hold.

"It's really kind of out of the ballpark now," he said.

Ball says he'd love to buy an electric vehicle (EV) but spending around $40,000 to $80,000 on a car while living on a fixed income is hard to justify.

Both the federal and B.C. governments offer rebates on purchases of new electric and hybrid vehicles. In April, Ottawa expanded its EV rebate program to include larger vehicles such as vans, SUVs and trucks. 

For people who can't do without their car for getting around, the Canadian Automobile Association has provided a list of tips to get better fuel economy from your vehicle, including planning trips, making sure your vehicle is in good condition, and being strategic about using air conditioning. 

With files from The Canadian Press

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