Bonnyville RCMP have opened a preliminary investigation about businesses fixing gas prices to earn more profit.
This comes after RCMP received a complaint earlier this week that gas prices in the surrounding communities were much lower than Bonnyville, namely Cold Lake. The RCMP’s general investigation unit opened an investigation in response. It is still in its early stages.
The investigation will use the Competition Act to see if an offense has occurred. It states that competing businesses cannot get together and set a fixed price for a product.
In this case, an offense would occur if it was proven that Bonnyville gas station owners were arbritarily fixing prices at a certain cost.
However, an investigation like this could take years to conclude. Plus, it is difficult to prove if anything illegal is happening. There are no regulatory prices that these gas stations have to abide by, although there is a general “market marginality.”
Basically, that means that businesses would be locking out competition by collectively setting their prices higher than in a competitive market.
Cst. Ben Burgess, heading the investigation, also needs reasonable proof that an offense has occurred in the first place to then gather more documentation. But as Cst. Burgess says: “it could be dead in the water at that point.”
He and his team will then talk to gas station owners to determine how they arrive at their gas prices. There is no evidence at this time to suggest any gas stations are doing this.