Protesters stop traffic into the Delta Ocean Pointe as they wait for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to arrive for an event at the hotel in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Ottawa is open to proposals from the private sector for a refinery in B.C., as a public inquiry into the province’s soaring gas prices reviews possible solutions.

READ MORE: Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas that would make life more affordable for Canadians.

“We’re always open to seeing what the private sector proposes, what business cases are out there. We believe in getting things done the right way and we’re going to work with people to find solutions to make sure that people can afford their weekly bills,” Trudeau said.

He made the comments in Victoria Thursday following a joint announcement with Premier John Horgan of $79 million to support 118 new transit buses across the province.

The funding will also allow for 10 long-range electric buses that would provide greener transportation options in Greater Victoria.

Horgan called the gas price inquiry in May when prices at the pump reached $1.70 on the Lower Mainland, saying the public deserved answers about why prices are so much more expensive and variable than in other jurisdictions.

Horgan said Thursday that while the province wants a transition away from fossil fuel dependence, that transition should be aided by more refined product to give B.C. drivers relief.

GAS PRICES 101: Where B.C. drivers’ pretty pennies are going at the pump

The province believes that, like raw logs, there’s an economic opportunity lost when oil and gas goes to market before value is added, even as the province moves toward cleaner energies, he said.

Oral hearings are ongoing in the public inquiry into gas prices and the three-member panel chaired by the David Morton, CEO of the B.C. Utilities Commission, is set to release a final report and recommendations Aug. 30.

Henry Kahwaty, an economist hired by Parkland Fuels, which owns and operates one of the province’s only refineries in Burnaby, told the panel on Wednesday that there have been several business cases circulating for additional refineries in the province.

But Kahwaty said the business cases put forward aren’t based on meeting local demand, even if some of the product would undoubtedly end up in B.C.

“It’s serving Asian markets,” Kahwaty said.

Dozens of protesters rallied outside a Liberal fundraiser Thursday night, carrying signs saying “declare a climate health emergency,” and “get oil out of our soil.”

Some held up giant, inflatable orcas mounted on sticks, a reference to the endangered species threatened by the increased tanker traffic that would come with the pipeline’s expansion.

They called for a stronger federal climate action plan and criticized Trudeau for his government’s approval and purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Trudeau told reporters that selling Canadian oil to American markets at a discount won’t help the environment but redirecting some of the profits from the expansion will.

During the fundraiser’s ”armchair discussion,” Trudeau said we’re in a time where populism and social media are amplifying voices on the peripheries and the Liberal party is committed to the “hard work,” of finding what can be complicated solutions.

“Nobody has a sign that says ‘Make a decent compromise,’ ‘Find a reasonable way forward,’ ‘Get that right balance.’ “

Although, he said he was flattered to hear the same orcas were at Elizabeth May’s wedding in April.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

‘Do the right thing,’ implores sister of South Surrey stabbing victim

IHIT confirms male arrested in connection with Paul Prestbakmo’s death no longer in custody

Groovy South Surrey wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Couple hosts themed wedding 50 years after legendary festival

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft: RCMP

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

FOOTBALL: 50 years of Bronze Boot battles in Surrey

With Jean McPherson, Joe Connelly helps plan annual tournament, set for Aug. 24-25

Family of South Surrey stabbing victim make public appeal

Paul Prestbakmo died in the early morning hours of Aug. 16

Clean the house, prep for your next trip: Tips to nix the post-vacation blues

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

Couple could go to jail for taking 88 lbs. of Italian sand

Pair said they didn’t know it was illegal to take the sand, which is protected as a public good

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Scheer promises EI tax credit for new parents if Conservatives form government

The government currently taxes employment insurance benefits for new parents

Border agents carry out raid at Hastings Racecourse

Dozens were spoken to, witnesses say

B.C. Speaker tight-lipped about aide’s legislature security tour

B.C. Liberals question Alan Mullen’s drive across Canada, U.S.

Most Read