British Columbia

Why are B.C. gas prices so high? Inquiry expected to deliver answers

The B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) is finishing up an investigation into why gas prices in the province fluctuate so much in comparison to the rest of the country and is expected to deliver answers on Friday. 

Premier John Horgan ordered utilities commission inquiry in May when gas prices hit record highs

Gas prices spiked to $1.52 a litre on Friday, the same day the B.C. Utilities Commission is set to release its findings into why gas is so expensive in the province. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

UPDATE — Aug. 30, 12:30 p.m. PT: The B.C. Utilities Commission has found the gasoline market in the province is not truly competitive and that there's a "significant unexplained difference" of about 13 cents per litre in gas prices between southern B.C. and other parts of the Pacific Northwest.

EARLIER STORY:

As gas prices surge ahead of the long weekend, the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) is finishing up its investigation into why gas and diesel prices in the province fluctuate so much in comparison to the rest of the country.

The commission is expected to deliver answers on Friday.

Gas prices had risen to $1.52 a litre in Vancouver by daybreak, seeing the customary jump ahead of Labour Day weekend.

Premier John Horgan ordered the inquiry in May when prices at the pump reached a record-breaking $1.70 a litre, saying gas and diesel price increases were "alarming, increasingly out of line with the rest of Canada, and people in B.C. deserve answers."

At the time, Horgan said British Columbians — particularly those in Metro Vancouver and on Vancouver Island — were used to higher gas prices compared to other provinces but not to the extent seen this spring. 

Much of the public exasperation about gas prices has been funnelled in the premier's direction. 

At one point this spring, a massive billboard emblazoned with "Blame John Horgan," paid for by the B.C. Liberal caucus through a budgeted legislative assembly fund, was put up next to the Alex Fraser Bridge on Highway 91 in Delta — a major thoroughfare for commuters in Metro Vancouver.

An anti-John Horgan billboard is pictured at the south end of the Alex Fraser bridge in Delta, British Columbia on Monday, April 29, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The BCUC is weighing the different factors that may have been influencing prices at the pump since 2015, such as profit margins, impacts at the refinery-level and competition.  

The commission is also looking at how the province can better moderate price fluctuations and increases in the future. 

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