Northeastern Ontario drivers turn to on-reserve gas stations to save money

Mandy Raymond of North Bay, Ont., drives 40 minutes from her home every time she needs to gas up her vehicle, to the Wolves Den Gas Bar, where gas prices are often 30 cents cheaper than in town.

On-reserve stations are charging up to 30 cents per litre less than average prices

On Friday, gas prices at the Wolves Den Gas Bar, west of North Bay, were more than 30 cents cheaper than most stations in the northeastern Ontario city. (Jonathan Migneault/CBC)

Mandy Raymond of North Bay, Ont., drives 40 minutes from her home every time she needs to gas up her vehicle.

Raymond normally fills up at the Wolves Den Gas Bar, 20 kilometres west of the city, where gas prices are often 30 cents cheaper than in town.

"We've always done the drive to come out to the reserve because it is a lot cheaper than what it is in town, which I don't understand," she said. "It still has to come from the same truckers, the same suppliers."

Lorie Young, the owner of the Wolves Den Gas Bar, said they have seen more customers as gas prices have approached $2 per litre in many parts of northeastern Ontario.

While prices were around $1.94 per litre at most North Bay gas stations on Monday, they were $1.66 per litre at the Wolves Den Gas Bar. Other on-reserve gas stations in the region also listed gas around the same price. 

"When we purchase the gas, it's tax exempt," Young said. 

"So we can charge a little bit less and still make some money on it, although we know we can't go any less than what we are doing right now because now we're cutting into the profit area."

Canadians are paying more at the pumps as Russia's attack on Ukraine puts further pressure on a surging oil price environment. The rise in gas prices is being blamed on the high demand for oil combined with a shortage of supply, and that's been happening for weeks.

Danika Martin, a cashier and gas attendant at the Wolves Den, said people come from as far away as Greater Sudbury — 100 kilometres away — to gas up and save money.

"A lot of people call ahead to see what our price of gas is and then they come here," she said. 

"They drive all the way here because they say it's worth it because they save a lot of money doing so."

Kenneth James Goulais of Sturgeon Falls stands outside the Wolves Den Gas Bar east of the town. He says he has had to cut back on his driving due to rising gas prices. (Jonathan Migneault/CBC)

Kenneth James Goulais of Sturgeon Falls said even with access to cheaper gas from on-reserve stations, he has had to change his behaviour due to increased prices.

"If I want to go to North Bay, I can't just go there for this or that," he said.

"It has to be for a specific reason to get something or something important. With bigger gas prices it's a little harder for me to afford to just do what I want now." 

Nadine Payette, manager of the Eagle's Nest Gas Bar, also west of North Bay, said the gas station has always had many customers who travel from the city and surrounding area to fill up for less.

She said rising gas prices haven't made much of a difference in terms of their lineups, which are always long.

"People are going to come here regardless of the gas prices at the gas bar," Payette said.

"And we don't feel right charging people, you know, 40 cents over the margin. It's not OK."