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2012-02-29 at MIDNIGHT

Motorists paying more to fill up as gas prices jump

Curtis Bagnall fills up his tank on Feb. 29, 2012.
Jeff Labine, tbnewswatch.com
Curtis Bagnall fills up his tank on Feb. 29, 2012.
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By Jeff Labine, tbnewswatch

Another price jump at the pumps had some residents saying government regulation may not be a bad idea.

The watchdog website Gasbuddy.com reported a six-cent increase to some gas stations across Thunder Bay on Wednesday. Some gas station prices were reported to be as high as $1.39. The current gas price average for on Ontario is about $1.29, according to Gasbuddy.com.

The site on Tuesday night reported several stations have hiked their prices to $1.36.9, up six cents from prices earlier in the day.

The increase came in the wake of overnight news from Quebec, where drivers woke to find gas costing $1.44.9, a 14-cent increase from the night before.

Rumours have circulated that gas could go up as high as $1.55 a litre this summer.

If that happens, some residents who spoke with Tbnewswatch.com said they wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Curtis Bagnall paid about $60 to fill up his SUV since the price increased. Working a minimum wage job, Bagnall said it takes more than half a day’s wage to fill up his vehicle.

“It is hard to afford the prices nowadays so I would definitely like to see (the prices) drop a bit,” Bagnall said. “I travel everywhere. I do hockey every day almost and I need a vehicle to travel.”

If the gas price went up to $1.55 a litre, he said he wouldn’t be able to afford it and wouldn’t know what to do. The one thing he knew for sure however was that he couldn’t live without his vehicle.

He said he wouldn’t have a problem if the government stepped in to regulate the gas prices.

Brad Skrzypek shared Bagnall’s opinion that he would like the provincial government to step in.

“I think it would be a lot better if the government regulated the gas prices,” Skrzypek said. “They can have a cut off where they can jack it up and leave it at that or mediate it a little bit better instead of fluctuating it.”

He said he’s not impressed that the gas prices have gone up again. His truck usually costs him about $130 each time he comes to the pump. If the prices go any higher, he said he would be able to afford it but would have to cut out some driving.
But not everyone agreed that the government should have a say on how much people pay at the pumps.

Wendy Handy paid $40 to fill a third of her van’s tank. She said if she could walk everywhere in the city she would if it meant avoiding paying such high prices.

She didn’t feel too optimistic that the Ontario government should control gas prices.

“I’m not sure if government regulations would be a good or a bad thing,” Handy said. “Market driven (prices) is sometimes a good thing but the government tends to get a lot of things wrong.”

She said she heard the rumour that gas could go as high as $1.55 this summer and wasn’t impressed. She couldn’t afford that high of a price so she and her husband have started talking about selling their other car.

Not having another car would mean her two young daughters would miss play groups, she said.

“I don’t want to pay that,” she said. “It’s been painful. My van is essential. I can’t go half a day without driving around. It really has turned into a big problem. It is a big pain to have to pay so much.”

MPP Bill Mauro (Lib., Thunder Bay – Atikokan) said they haven’t found an idea yet that would reduce gas prices through regulation. The most recent one discussed was a possible weekly ceiling cap.

Mauro said he didn’t know what that would accomplish.

“It might just force gas companies to actually increase their gas prices sooner,” Mauro said. “I haven’t seen an idea yet where the regulation is having an effect on reducing gas prices. We talk on a regular basis in terms of the government.”

Mauro said the federal government has a part to play in reducing gas prices. There’s a piece of federal legislation that deals with high gas prices. He said if there is a gouging at the pumps then the federal government would step in.

“This is not an Ontario commodity this is a national commodity that’s used by everyone in Canada,” he said. “The federal legislation is there to deal with issues of collusion should they exist.”

With files from Leith Dunick.


Follow Jeff Labine and Leith Dunick on Twitter @Labine_reporter and @LeithDunick


 

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