The Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce says businesses in that town are feeling the pinch because of high gasoline prices and they hope their MLA can help.
“It’s been a longstanding source of frustration for businesses and residents alike,” said chamber president Jim Kimmerly. “We’re always at the higher end of gas prices in the area here.”
Kimmerly said the newly elected Liberal MLA, Greg Kyllo, has pressured gas companies for answers in the past while on Sicamous town council.
That town typically saw prices around five cents a litre higher than Salmon Arm. Since its town council pressured gas companies two years ago, they’ve been on par, said Kimmerly.
Kyllo could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
The Salmon Arm chamber began its mission by sending out a survey to its 340 members with three simple questions: Do you believe higher gas prices provide a reason to shop out of town? Would it make a significant positive impact to business if gas prices were more in line with other cities in the region? And how much of a difference would improved gas prices make to annual revenues?
The results showed an overwhelming belief that gas prices are sending potential customers out of town.
And about half of the 75 respondents believed their revenue would increase by five to 10 per cent if gas prices were in line with surrounding communities.
“This is in their opinion because there’s no way to have any scientific measurement for it,” said Kimmerly.
Nonetheless, the chamber intends to get to the bottom of the disparity.
The board hasn’t settled on a detailed plan yet, but Kimmerly does expect to ask the town’s council and MLA to ask the petroleum companies to explain its pricing structure.
“We’ve got some tracking of gas prices,” he said. “They’ve been very consistent.”
On Thursday, Kamloops gas prices average 124.9 per litre while Vernon, Enderby and Kelowna all averaged 132.9. Salmon Arm far out priced its surroundings with an average of 138.9 per litre.
Salmon Arm is only the latest community in the region to lash out over gas prices.
Last November, then-MLA Harry Lali was backing Merrittonians Against Gas Price Fixing, which launched a petition as residents became infuriated with the 10- to 20-cent different between prices in Merritt and Kamloops. Its gas was listed at 136.9 on Thursday.
And in January, Logan Lake residents grumbled loudly at the consistent three-cent difference with Kamloops. Its gas on Thursday was 127.9.
It’s widely acknowledged that Costco Wholesale Corp.'s Kamloops station is the price setter and other stations in the city follow suit.