With Alberta’s new carbon tax coming into effect on New Year’s day, drivers across the province lined up to fill up their vehicles with gas ahead of the anticipated jump at the pumps.
“I’m not in favour of it,” Lethbridge driver Drew McNeil said of the carbon tax. “I think it’s going to cost us nothing but money and grief.”
An employee at the Costco gas bar in south Lethbridge said he had a long and steady line most of the day Saturday.
“It’s been nuts here,” Court Davies said.
“There have been multiple cars lined up behind every pump…all people in anticipation for the carbon levy.”
In Edmonton, the Costco gas station on the south side was lined up five or six cars deep for much of Saturday afternoon. Gas at Costco was selling for just under 97 cents per litre. Most gas stations across the city were selling gas for 106.4 cents per litre.
Calgary also saw a jump at the pumps this week. On Thursday, gas prices were as high as 109.9 cents per litre.
The province said the carbon levy will be charged on all fuels that emit greenhouse gases when combusted at a rate of $20 per tonne in 2017 and $30 per tonne in 2018.
That will result in gas shooting up by 4.5 cents per litre across Alberta beginning Sunday. Diesel is set to increase by 5.4 cents per litre and natural gas will climb more than $1 per gigajoule.
“I understand the concept behind it but we’re in such tough shape in this province and this is not the right time for any of these things,” said Lethbridge motorist Cliff Middleton.
“I think the carbon tax is the biggest scam that has ever been perpetrated on Albertan consumers,” Gary Purnell told Global News as he waited in line to fill up.
The province estimates the average family will pay $443 more in 2017 due to the tax. Opposition politicians say it will be at least double that as the carbon tax dominoes through the economy.
Watch below: What will Alberta’s carbon tax cost you?
The province said revenue from the carbon levy will be reinvested by into Alberta to reduce emissions and support economic diversification.
“These dollars will also fund investment in green infrastructure, energy efficiency, renewable energy, bioenergy and innovation,” the province said in a media release Saturday.
“Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan is a made-in-Alberta strategy that means new markets for our resources, rebates for families and lower taxes for small business,” Finance Minister Joe Ceci said in a media release. “And it’s working. The approval of the Trans Mountain and Line 3 pipelines will encourage investment in our energy industry and generate thousands of new jobs.”
Earlier this week, coal customers across the province also stocked up ahead of the looming carbon tax. Right now they pay $42 per tonne for coal. The carbon levy will tack on an additional $35.39 per tonne in 2017.
Low to middle-income Albertans will get a rebate on the carbon tax but many people still feel uncertain about it, nervous the cost of the new tax will show up in unexpected places.
With files from Laurel Gregory, Global News and The Canadian Press.