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'Where does it stop?': Gas, hydro, tobacco now cost more in B.C.
A new carbon tax hike will likely have British Columbians shelling out record amounts of money at the pumps this spring, but gasoline is far from being the only thing that now costs more in the province.
BC Hydro rates shot up three per cent Sunday, making it even more difficult for some small businesses to keep the lights on.
"For the last three years, I've seen an increase in the bill," said Andres Bermudez, the general manager of Bella Gelateria in downtown Vancouver. "For a small business, it's very hard for us to keep up."
Bermudez said it's getting more difficult to keep all the refrigerators and mixers required for the business running.
"For me, I need to again adjust the budget because, as you see, I have so many machines, so I need to plan ahead (for) how to save energy now," he said, adding that hydro costs use up about five per cent of the gelato shop's monthly budget.
Gas prices hit more than $1.55 in Metro Vancouver Sunday when the province increased its carbon tax from $30 to $35 a tonne—the first of four hikes scheduled under John Horgan's NDP government.
The tax adds 1.2 cents to the cost of fuel. The carbon tax used to cost the driver of an average compact car with a 65-litre tank $4.35 per fill-up before the increase. That number rose to $5 on Sunday and will reach $7.35 by the time the fourth increase kicks in.
By then, drivers will be paying an average of $23 per tank in provincial taxes alone.
"I know the governments are always looking for ways to raise money for more taxes, but where do you draw the line? Where does it stop?" one driver told CTV as he filled up his truck.
GasBuddy.com analyst Dan McTeague said gas stations also switch to summer blend fuel in April, which adds an additional four cents to the price of gasoline. McTeague predicts the prices in Metro Vancouver will hit $1.60 per litre at some point during the spring or summer.
For now, he said prices in the region will stay at a maximum of 155.9 cents until Wednesday when they will likely drop by a penny.
These factors, combined with a supply shortage caused by temporary closures at three refineries in the Pacific Northwest, have caused prices at the pumps to jump to record-breaking levels.
McTeague criticized the timing of the carbon tax increase, saying the government failed to take into account the other factors that are already making gas less affordable for Lower Mainland residents.
"It just makes a bad situation that much worse. It just adds to a permanent structure in the price of gasoline," he said. "The timing is absolutely awful, but I don't think that was really of concern to those who thought this would be a wonderful time to introduce this and of course, we're going to see this year over year."
The B.C. government also raised the tax on tobacco from 24.6 cents to 27.5 cents per cigarette on April 1.
Those who buy vehicles for $125,000 to $149,999 will now pay a 13-per-cent luxury car surtax on top of the seven-per-cent provincial sales tax. That number is 13 per cent for cars worth more than $150,000.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Scott Roberts