UPDATED Jan. 24
The squeaky wheel appears to have triggered a break at the pumps.
Last Wednesday, Sicamous council agreed to address the price of gas, which had a tendency to be higher than in neighbouring communities. Less than a week later the price at Sicamous pumps dropped from 124.9 to 119.9, putting Sicamous on par with Salmon Arm.
Coun. Greg Kyllo, who had attempted to address the matter during his campaign for council, is thrilled with the change.
“I think it’s empowering – the citizens of the community do have a voice and it’s apparent their voice is heard,” Kyllo said Wednesday afternoon. “I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the fuel prices drop at the same time that there was a story headlining in the local newspaper about the inconsistencies and I guess, injustice might be a strong word, with respect to the fuel prices in our community.”
Kyllo suggested that independent competitors in neighbouring communities like Salmon Arm and Enderby help to keep prices lower there. In Sicamous, he says there’s no driver for any of the existing stations to increase their business by lowering fuel prices.
“But the good news is they appear to be listening – hopefully we can pay prices that are commensurate with surrounding communities,” says Kyllo, noting council will continue to monitor gas prices. “Council hasn’t really even stepped up yet. It certainly is an area of concern identified during the campaign and by other citizens. Coun. (Fred) Busch was fantastic to bring that forward at the last council meeting.”
Busch could only speculate on why gas prices suddenly dropped. He did emphasize, however, that council is not about to drive away from the issue.
“I still would like to see us pursue the matter and find out why in the past our prices have been so much higher than everybody else and why suddenly they’ve taken a drop and are in line with what they are in Salmon Arm,” said Busch. “They’re still higher than what they are in Enderby, the Mara Market, and even Vernon and Armstrong and Kelowna.”
As of Tuesday, Jan. 23, gas prices were as follows: Revelstoke – 124.9; Enderby – 116.5; Vernon – 117.5; Kelowna – 118.9; Salmon Arm – 119.9; Sicamous – 119.9.
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Sicamous gas prices are driving business out of the community, and district council wants to change that.
A motion by Coun. Fred Busch to address fuel prices in Sicamous, which he said tend to be higher in communities surrounding Sicamous, was eagerly supported by council at last Monday’s committee of the whole meeting. Busch said the high cost of fuel is having an impact on the well-being of the entire community.
“I’m sure the people driving through here, they’ve driven through Salmon Arm and they know they’re going to need some fuel, and all of a sudden they see $1.24, so they head on to the Skyline or to Revelstoke where it’s cheaper,” said Busch. “If they don’t stop here, chances are they don’t stop to have something to eat, to buy a snack, to buy whatever.
“I think somehow or other, we have to convince the people setting the price that that’s not acceptable to us.”
Coun. Charlotte Hutchinson said its the gas companies that are setting the prices, not the local agents. Coun. Greg Kyllo confirmed this, stating that during his campaign, he invited a friend, a freelance reporter, to do a news story on fuel costs. He said the local operators wouldn’t go on the record, but what he gathered is they receive a phone call or email every day and are told what their price of gas will be.
“They’re directed, they have to follow suit. If they do not, they run the risk of losing their dealership,” said Kyllo. “So fuel prices are set for Husky from Calgary, and the Shell and the Esso are actually out of Toronto.”
Kyllo was given a mandate from family to do something about gas prices.
“I got a call from my mother on her way down south, ‘There’s one thing you have to do is fix those bloody fuel prices in Sicamous,’” said Kyllo, noting that people are filling up in town with just enough gas to get them to the next community. “They’re giving the wrong message to tourists. We’re basically telling them we don’t want their business.”
Busch recommended that letters be written to the gas companies, and start by asking why the price is so high and what the factors are. He suggested copies of the letter also be sent to the local station managers so they know what’s going on.
As of Monday, Jan. 16, gas prices in Sicamous were 123.9 and 124.9. Gas was also 124.9 in Revelstoke. It was 116.5 in Enderby, 119.9 in Salmon Arm and 117.5 in Vernon.