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East Kootenay gas prices pass $2 per litre for the first time

Soaring gas prices climbed ever further over the weekend, landing at nearly $2.15 per litre in Cranbrook as of June 6.

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka said gas pricing is a complex issue, but ultimately impacts everyone.

“We live in a challenging geographic area where some people commute an hour or more just to get to work. For example, there are over 500 families that live in Cranbrook who travel to Elkford or Sparwood to work in the mines,” said Shypitka. 

“Some of them go back and forth every day, so it’s costing families hundreds of dollars more per month just to work and get by.”

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Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok said this will put added strain on people, as many B.C. residents are already struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living.

“This is really hurting people. Not just at the pumps, but at the grocery stores and retail stores because it affects the supply chain,” said Clovechok. 

“So many British Columbians are $200 away from insolvency right now, it’s unbelievable. Unless the Horgan government steps in and makes things a little easier for people to deal with, we’re going to see more people losing their homes and businesses suffering.”

The Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA said the impacts of rising fuel costs will be felt in one of B.C.’s most important economic sectors.

“A lot of people aren’t doing the things they used to do,” said Clovechok. “If you’re a tourist, and you’re seeing gas is 50 or 60 cents a litre more expensive than it is in Alberta, you’ll just stay home. That impacts the economy, employees, everybody.”

Clovechok and Shypitka, along with other members of the B.C. Liberal Party are advocating for taxes on fuel to be suspended.

“We’re trying to call on the government to give us some relief at the pump, take off the motor fuel tax, and at least give us that 15 cent per litre break,” said Shypitka.

Both MLAs said the B.C. NDP government is not doing what it needs to do to help British Columbians.

“If you listen to Premier John Horgan, he’ll just tell you to take the bus,” said Shypitka. “That’s great in the Lower Mainland, but out here in rural B.C., we don’t even have Greyhound services.”

That said, Shypitka spoke of efforts to improve public transit in rural communities and hopes to see them expand in the future.

“BC Bus North is a federal and provincial program that brought more bussing to northern communities. I went to the Minister of Health and Minister of Transportation and asked about the southeast corner of the province. We suffer the same geographical barriers that the north does,” said Shyptika. 

“The program is set to reset this year, I think, so that’s on the B.C. government’s radar to expand that program to the south. I’ll be hitting the minister hard to make sure he does bring it to the Kootenays.”

The benefits of public transit are threefold: it helps residents save money on getting around and between communities, it helps deal with congested roadways by fitting more people in fewer vehicles, and fewer vehicles mean fewer emissions in our atmosphere.

“If we’re trying to reduce carbon emissions, it makes sense to move people in one vessel, rather than 40 people going out in 40 [Ford] F350s or whatever they drive. It would make a lot more sense to bus people,” said Shypitka.

The MLA noted that it is a complex issue, but feels the government needs to step in.

“There’s no real silver bullet to any of these problems, but the fact of the matter is that the government of B.C. needs to stop pushing blame on other factors and do what they can to make sure we don’t suffer the pain at the pumps we’ve been going through,” said Shypitka.

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