Swelling gas prices draining Brandonites' pockets

·4 min read

After a double-digit increase, gasoline prices in Brandon have spiked to a near-record high.

Drivers at Heritage Co-op Gas Bar filled up their tanks Friday, as prices soared to 142.9 cents per litre.

"It’s going to hit the pocketbook, that’s for sure," said Sheldon Reynolds. "It was a big jump in a short time, for what reason I’m not sure. I’m glad it’s payday today, let’s put it that way."

Filling up his F150 truck, Andy Haight said he’s used to seeing increases at the pump before long weekends, but not like this. Motorists in Brandon and Winnipeg saw the price go up by more than 11 cents per litre in the last week. The highest recorded average of fuel prices in Brandon was set in 2008 when it was 144.9 cents per litre, according to fuel price tracking website GasBuddy.com.

Manitoba’s highest recorded average of fuel prices was 142 cents per litre, which was also set in 2008. On Friday, Canada broke the record for highest average fuel prices, at 143.4 cents per litre.

"There’s less leftover at the end of the day to pay bills and get through life I guess," Haight said. "I just wish it wouldn’t jump so quick maybe, so fast. Everything seems to be going up these days and it takes a hit."

He chuckled at the fact that the self-serve pump’s maximum authorization for a fill is $135.

"I guarantee it will be $135 and won’t fill my truck."

Mayor Rick Chrest was also fuelling up on Friday and said the price increase will have an impact on a broad cross-section of the community.

"Certainly, individuals would feel the crunch, and especially leading into a Thanksgiving weekend when a lot of people might be doing more travelling," he said. "And then on top of that, from an economic standpoint, almost everything in our economy gets here on wheels in some way, shape or form."

As freight haulers increase rates, higher costs trickle down to the consumers, and when fuel prices spike, Chrest said, it has a "broad, profound effect on, kind of, everything."

Data from Natural Resources Canada, which tracks fuel prices across the country, shows the average weighted national retail price for regular gasoline in Canada hit $1.45 per litre this week. That’s up more than 40 cents year-over-year, the highest weekly average price on record, according to fuel price consultancy firm Kalibrate, which has data all the way back to 2007.

Experts say the majority of the gains are being driven by the price of crude oil, which is at seven-year highs due to increased demand globally as pandemic restrictions ease and economic activity picks up.

"The pandemic has impacted many, many households and some people are still not fully back to work, and so having their costs increase as well will certainly be a challenge," Chrest said. "I’m sure people will have to decide whether to fill their tank or pay some other bills, so it’s going to be a challenge that way."

Barbara McNish, executive director of Samaritan House Ministries, says she is concerned that the swelling costs may lead to more people in need of the food bank.

"The price of fuel going up may not be the best for people that have to come and find a way to get their hampers," she said. "There’s a few people who already struggle with that, but I think we’re going to see more people not being able to come down and pick up their hampers if they can’t afford gas."

There is also a slight concern about the impact it will have on donations, McNish said, but expressed her gratitude for the way people in Westman continue to show up for those in need.

"They have been so faithful to us," she said. "I think the community is going to come together and continue to support us. We’ll just have to work our way through this high cost right now."

The food bank is always in need of protein, such as peanut butter and canned meat. McNish said staples like rice, pasta and canned vegetables are always welcome.

"Right now, the gardeners are bringing in a lot of produce, which is awesome because people can get fresh tomatoes, or cucumbers, potatoes all those kinds of things, so that’s great," she said.

The food hamper program slowed down during the pandemic, as restrictions were in place, but McNish said numbers are climbing up again with the food bank handing out 85 to 100 hampers per day. Samaritan House offers hamper pickup Monday to Friday, 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday evenings they are open 4 to 5:30 p.m.

— with files from The Canadian Press

» Jillian Austin is a Local Journalism Initiative freelance reporter and a real estate agent with Century 21 Westman.

» Twitter: @jillianaustin

» jillianaustin.news@gmail.com

Jillian Austin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun

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