Over the weekend, the cost to fill up a gas-powered vehicle climbed to a new record in B.C., with Metro Vancouver seeing prices of $2.09 a litre.
Under normal circumstances, drivers close to the U.S. border might consider going to Washington State to save on gas. But the remaining COVID-19 border restrictions have made that more complicated.
In Bellingham on Monday, gas was on average US$3.45 a gallon, or about C$1.17 a litre.
And in Point Roberts, a U.S. community just south of Vancouver and, if in a vehicle, only accessible through Canada, it was on average US$4.31 a gallon. That’s about C$1.45 a litre.
Canada still requires a rapid antigen or PCR test to enter the country, and all travellers must continue to submit mandatory information on the ArriveCAN app, including proof of vaccination.
But the federal government happens to recognize Point Roberts as a “remote border community” until March 31, so fully vaccinated Canadians can visit for any length of time without having to present a negative test when returning home. They just need to submit information to ArriveCAN and could be randomly selected to do a COVID test at home later.
“A special exemption because of our unique situation and how much our economy depends on Canadians,” said Brian Calder, president of the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce, which is trying to get the word out about the road to cheaper gas.
Said Malora Glenn, who travels to Point Roberts from south Surrey: “There’s no problem. Border guards know what to do, as long as you know what to do and you tell them what you are bringing and what you are bringing back. It’s easy.”
As for the rest of the border crossings, federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino gave no indication when more restrictions would ease.
“We want to get there, but we have to get there at the right pace and at the right time based on the right evidence and that’s what we’ll do,” he said during a visit to Surrey businesses near the border on Monday.
Demand for fuel has surged as COVID restrictions drop across Canada, while the war in Ukraine is putting a run on the world’s already constrained supply of oil.
Gas prices were the first to soar nationwide. Food prices are expected to follow suit.
In the next three to five months, Canada will see the prices of grain-based products rise. Next, animal proteins, according Sylvain Charlebois, director at Agri-Foods Analytics Laboratory and professor at Dalhousie University.
“Meat counter products, followed by dairy,” he specified.
“It really depends on two things: How long this conflict lasts and how China will react because China is a big part of this,” Charlebois added, noting China’s influence on the global market.
— with files from Craig Lord and Irelyne Lavery