Canadians are frequent visitors to gas stations in Blaine, Wash., as prices are considerably cheaper than in White Rock. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Peninsula residents head south as gas prices reach record high

As of Sunday afternoon, gas in White Rock cost $1.709 a litre

Record-breaking gas prices on the Semiahmoo Peninsula are driving residents south to the border, and some are saving hundreds of dollars in the process.

Cities across the Lower Mainland broke a North American record on Sunday for the high cost of gas, including White Rock where prices reached $1.709 a litre at the Petro-Canada on Johnston Road.

GasBuddy.com petroleum analyst Dan McTeague said on Twitter Friday that $1.699 per litre was a North American record of any major city.

A representative from the Blaine, Wash., Chamber of Commerce told Peace Arch News Monday that it’s not an uncommon sight to see Canadians filling up their jerry cans at one of the several gas stations directly across the Peace Arch border.

Monday, PAN travelled to Blaine to speak to Canadians filling up, and the common theme was that it’s worth the trip, especially if you have a Nexus pass.

While gas floated around $1.69 per litre in White Rock Monday, prices were around US$3.55 per gallon in Blaine, which converts to $1.25 per litre in Canada.

“When prices are up, we come down here for gas,” Surrey resident Doug, who didn’t provide his last name, told PAN while filling his tank in Blaine. “Today, we’re here on other business, so I’m just topping the tank off.”

Doug said the last time he came to the States, he travelled further south to Ferndale where prices are even better. He provided PAN with a receipt from an April 2 trip.

A full tank of gasoline and two jerry cans, totalling 134 litres of fuel, cost him C$141, or about $1.05 per litre.

In contrast, 134 litres of fuel at a price of $1.50 per litre would cost about $200 in Canada.

“We figured it was about $65 that we saved,” Doug’s wife Janette told PAN.

Doug expressed frustration over the fluctuation of gas prices in Canada, and added that “I can’t see it going back down to $1.20 (per litre), ever again.

“Put it in your report, I think this is price gouging.”

But it’s not just gasoline that’s attracting Canadians to the U.S.

White Rock resident Al Herrington, who was filling his tank at Mobil, off 3rd Street in Blaine, told PAN he’s been travelling to the U.S. for gas and select grocery items “forever.”

On an average trip, Herrington estimated that he spends about $25 on gasoline and $25 on milk, eggs and cheese, which are cheaper in the U.S.

Herrington said a dozen eggs cost as little as $1.

“Sometimes you can get two for a $1.20. But, they’re usually about $1.20 a dozen,” Herrington said.

While driving to the U.S. Monday, Herrington said he heard on the radio that – depending on the results of the Alberta provincial election Tuesday – gas prices could increase even more, perhaps by 30 cents per litre.

“I guess Alberta is trying to use that as a stick against the NDP government for not allowing the pipeline to go through here,” Herrington said.

“Consumers are going to go where the prices are the best.”

A man who asked to be identified as Richard Smith told PAN – while filling two jerry cans in Blaine – that milk and dairy are about 30 to 40 per cent cheaper in the U.S., and he makes frequent trips to the border for gas and supplies.

“I lived in Vancouver for five years so I’ve probably been coming down for four years,” Smith said, adding that he saves about $20 to $30 each trip.

He started bringing jerry cans so he could reduce the number of times he has to cross the border, he added.

“Instead of coming down every week, I can come down every 10 days or two weeks.”

White Rock Business Improvement Association executive director Alex Nixon said none of the White Rock businesses have vocalized concerns to him about losing business to Blaine.

The issue, he said, isn’t one that he has given much thought.

McTeague has blamed the gas-price hike on the increase to B.C.’s carbon tax that came into effect on April 1, as well as two major fuel suppliers in Puget Sound undergoing maintenance. One of those refineries is expected to be up and running in the next few days.

By comparison, gas prices in Toronto, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg are all at about $1.20 per litre.



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

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Gas prices in White Rock reached $1.709 a litre Sunday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Gas prices in White Rock reached $1.709 a litre Sunday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

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