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Robert Barron column: High gas prices are hurting

Unfortunately, driving is a big part of my job
Robert’s column

The $110 ICBC rebate the province’s drivers can expect to receive in May to help the insurance company’s customers deal with skyrocketing gas prices ($165 for commercial drivers) is a joke for someone like me.

I am now spending almost $100 a week on fuel just to get to work and back home each day, which now makes paying for gas my second biggest bill after my mortgage, so ICBC’s rebate is just a small drop in a very big bucket and means little to me in the long run.

I remember when I was in my 20s and it would cost me $3 to fill the gas tank on my motorcycle, which was enough to last several days.

Gas prices were so low that it wasn’t even a consideration in my budget at the time, and I was a poor student.

Now, with the growing costs of everything else as well, including food, it appears I’m destined to be a poor adult who is quickly approaching the retirement years, which is not a very comfortable position to be in.

While the uncertainty around the world’s fuel supplies has increased dramatically with Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and is playing a part in the spike in fuel prices, it’s also apparent that the gas companies don’t mind taking full advantage of the crisis to clean out our wallets, knowing full well we are so addicted to our gas-guzzling vehicles that we will bite the bullet with little more than some grumbling about it.

A recent survey of Canadians conducted by Leger on behalf of the insurance comparison company RATESDOTCA on the impacts of the high gas prices across the nation found that more than half of Canadians say they’re driving less, and nearly three-quarters of B.C. residents have either already cut back on their driving or intended to do so.

Unfortunately, driving is a big part of my job, so driving less is not an option for me.

The survey also found that Canadians are increasingly considering buying an electric, hybrid or alternative-fuel-source vehicle the next time they purchase a new one, and that could prove to be a viable option for me, with the additional bonus that it would be beneficial to the environment.

But these vehicles have some issues to consider, including the fact that the infrastructure to support them, like charging stations, has yet to reach the levels to meet the increasing demand.

It would be very inconvenient to find yourself in a remote area, as I often do as part of my job, and have your car run out of energy and have no charging stations in place anywhere nearby.

I expect it will be some time before charging stations are as plentiful as gas stations.

The initial costs of an electric vehicle are also currently much more expensive than ones that are gas powered, which is a big disincentive for many, but those costs can expect to be recouped in the long term because electricity, for now, is a lot cheaper than gas.

But these are considerations for down the road, and they don’t do much to financially help me, and many others in the same boat, right now.

Some days I think I’d be better off getting rid of the car altogether and take a job at the sandwich shop right across the street from my house with the ‘help wanted’ sign permanently displayed in the front window.

I figure that I’d be making pretty much the same money, if you take out all the expenses of maintaining and gassing up my car, and I wouldn’t have to put my life at risk driving on the crazy Trans-Canada Highway every day to get back and forth to work.

Unfortunately, these are the days we’re living in.

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Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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