People line up along the Trans-Canada Highway in October 2014 to protest high gas prices in Salmon Arm, compared to surrounding communities. (File photo)

People line up along the Trans-Canada Highway in October 2014 to protest high gas prices in Salmon Arm, compared to surrounding communities. (File photo)

Column: Waiting for $2-plus per litre gas to fuel 2014-level protests

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

How does that saying go: fuel me once, shame on you; fuel me twice, shame on me?

How about a fuel and his money are soon parted.

I’m sorry, please stay. I’ll stop.

I’m just trying to adjust to the possibility we could soon be paying more at gas pumps in town than Salmon Arm’s current gas price pinnacle of $2.05 per litre of regular.

Years ago I thought $1.50 per litre would be the tipping point, the price that would flick a societal switch and drive the motor-vehicle dependent masses to push for more readily available and affordable transportation alternatives to fossil fuels.

There was some friction in Salmon Arm in 2014 when gas prices hit around $1.30 per litre – about 15 cents per litre more than the cost in neighbouring communities. This prompted protesters to line up along Highway 1 with signs that read “Rip off at the pump!” or listed the cost per litre in Kamloops.

Not much price variation now though between Salmon Arm, Vernon and Kelowna, with most gas stations selling within five cents of the $2 mark.

Actually, as of Thursday morning, May 12, a few Salmon Arm gas stations may have had the lowest prices in the region, below $1.85 per litre.

I know the price difference between $1.85 and $2 per litre isn’t huge, yet the latter feels like $1.50 once did, a psychological prompt to consider alternatives while being more selective about where one fuels up. Which is to be expected. Psychological pricing (aka charm pricing), suggests consumers already favour a price slightly lower than the next rounded-up number (for example, using gas pricing, 199.9 cents instead of $2 per litre).

For further perceived savings, B.C. residents are driving across the U.S. border into Washington to fuel up. (Because you’ve got to spend money to save money?)

Interestingly, in March of this year the American Automobile Association (AAA) released the findings of a survey through which it found $4 a gallon to be the tipping point for U.S. drivers. That’s about a $1.37 Cdn per litre.

“Over half (59 per cent) said they would make changes to their driving habits or lifestyle if the cost of gas rose to $4 per gallon,” said AAA.

As of May 12, the cheapest gas in Bellingham, Wash. was $4.29 per gallon. That’s $1.47 Cdn per litre, which to many may very well be worth the drive. But we’re fuelling ourselves if we think bargain shopping alone will do anything more than pump up the billions in profits already being made by oil companies.

Read more: B.C. residents crossing border in search of more affordable fuel

Read more: Gas prices surpass $2 per litre in Salmon Arm, highest in North Okanagan-Shuswap


lachlan@saobserver.net
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