Drivers in several other B.C. communities may be celebrating a drop in gas prices this morning, but not in Salmon Arm or Sicamous.
A litre of regular gas at the Petro-Canada in Salmon Arm is pegged at 124.9 cents – the same as most Salmon Arm gas stations, but 99.9 cents in Penticton and 108.9 in Kamloops.
Chevron, which was listed on GasBuddy.com at 128.9 at 10 o’clock this morning, has since dropped to 124.9 per litre in line with the other Salmon Arm stations. In Penticton, Chevron customers are paying 104.9C.
At the Husky in Salmon Arm, gas is selling at 124.9 cents but 108.9 in Kamloops and 105.9 in Penticton.
The only nearby community with prices the same as or higher than Salmon Arm’s is Sicamous, where GasBuddy lists Husky as the lowest station at 124.9, with Shell, AFD and Chevron at 128.9.
Frustrated Blind Bay resident Ken Smith refers to Salmon Arm as “Slammin Arm” because slammed is what he says is happening to Salmon Arm drivers, particularly seniors.
Drivers can fuel up in Kelowna for 119.9 cents in all gas stations listed on GasBuddy, except for Shell where it is 120.9C or Esso where it is 121.9.
“They haul the gas from Kamloops, through here on its way to Vernon and Kelowna,” says Smith. “As a senior, who can’t get out, they’re paying 10 cents more than they should.”
Smith suspects that suppliers set a minimum price that retail outlets must charge and leave local stations to set their own prices beyond that.
Why else would the prices be the same across the city but five cents cheaper at 119.9 cents at the Tappen Co-op in Sorrento, and at 120.9 at Mellor’s on Highway 97B? he asks. Or, how about two Squilax-Anglemont Road stations – 116.9 at the Esso and 117.9 at Race Trac?
“I like to shop local,” he says. “But I’m willing to drive to Kamloops and there’s a bigger variety of shopping.”
Another resident who refuses to fuel her car in Salmon Arm is Michelle Hansen.
“I am no longer going to work hard for my money and pay these gas prices; I shop everywhere else,” she says, pointing out she hears “rumblings” from many other local drivers and businesses. “We should find out why this keeps happening to Salmon Arm residents and why we keep paying more than anywhere else. A little greedy, don’t you think?”
A call to Suncor, a supplier, resulted in an email suggesting, “Your story would benefit from comment from the Canadian Fuels Association as they’ll be able to provide an industry wide perspective on pricing.”
The association, however, was closed Monday.