Pain at the Pumps

Council wants to know why gas prices are so much higher in Bonnyville than any other community.

Bonnyville Town Council is fed up with being gouged at the pumps. At Tuesday’s Council Meeting, Mayor Gene Sobolewski asked what can the Town do to find out why gas prices are higher in Bonnyville, by an extreme margin, than any of the neighbouring communities.

“I’ve taken a few trips to Cold Lake and St. Paul, I’m finding that the price of fuel is so high in Bonnyville,” Mayor Sobolewski says he’s upset with the abnormality and does not accept transportation as an excuse for the increase of prices; considering Cold Lake is further than Bonnyville, yet still has lower prices. “Gas is $100.3-101.0 in Bonnyville, relative to 86.9 in Cold Lake and 91.0 in St. Paul.”

“What I want is to see a. whether or not administration can research if there’s anything the Town can do, in terms of a bylaw or intervene. b. I’d like to see if anyone from Council would be interested in sitting down and discussing this issue with the retailers in town,” the mayor, though slightly pessimistic, says that saying nothing and trying nothing isn’t going to get the town anywhere.

I don’t know why they calculate it, who calculates it, or how they calculate it; but this is ridiculous! – Gene Sobolewski Mayor of Bonnyville on gas prices in town.

Councillor John Irwin, who also sits as Chair of the Co-op Board, allowed some perspective, “it’s not up to the retailer. They’re given the price and no matter what they price is, they make four cents a litre.” Councillor Irwin explains that should the retailer lower the price on their own, they would still have to pay the supplier the price determined; thus they would lose money.

Gas Prices taken March 29th, 2017 

“We don’t want to hurt any local retailers,” Mayor Sobolewski says it’s not his intention to harm any businesses in town and nixes the idea of a boycott or protest. “If this doesn’t stop we are just encouraging people to be fueling up in other communities and maybe they’ll stay to eat and do their shopping. This is hurting our community and it has to stop! I want to find out why!”

Councillor Jim Cheverie says he’s fed up as well, “I fueled up in Cold Lake and we’re not talking about cents, I save $16. That’s huge.”

“I want this issue done. If we have the ability to pass a bylaw that [our gas prices] shall be the average of the two communities to the east and west of us, then we should,” the mayor says it is unlikely that the Town can pass such a bylaw and enforce it; but he’s willing to try that route, if they legally can.

Council does not buy the idea that it’s supply and demand, because it would not make sense for Cold Lake, which is further down Highway 28 than they are would have lower prices. Considering the gas is coming from refineries in Edmonton, there is no logical transportation reasoning for the higher prices.

Councillors Ray Prevost and Nestor Kunec agreed to sit on a special committee that will aim to sit down with retailers and get to the bottom of the gas price issue. Additionally, Town Administration, has been directed to look into the Town’s legal options as to whether or not a bylaw can be created and if so, how it can be enforced.