Houstonites deserve easier access to transparency in setting gas prices

(File photo)

It shouldn’t require a background in investigative journalism or familiarity with freedom of information (FOI) requests to learn how gas is priced in B.C.

Unfortunately right now that seems to be the situation we are in.

Here at the paper one of the most common story ideas we get are messages from people upset with discrepancies in gas prices. Usually pointing to Costco in Prince George (where, for example, on the afternoon of June 22 regular gas sits at 101.9) they ask us how come the Petro Canada at the 7-Eleven or the co-op Cardlock (where at that same time regular was at 119.9 for both) is set so higher than their western neighbours some 300 kilometers away.

After spending a significant portion of the last week and calling over half a dozen different media lines to this specific point I can tell you with certainty: I don’t know. But I’m going to try to find out.

That’s because the system has been set up in a way that is intentionally confusing and tough for all but the most FOI-savvy individuals.

When I wanted to find the answer to how gas was priced I first messaged the media line for Canadian energy giant Suncor, which owns Petro-Canada.

They told me that while they do own the company that because the Houston site is independently-owned (versus corporate) they cannot speak to the individual pricing of this site and are not the final arbiters of these matters.

Fair enough.

I was, however, able to learn that the company responsible for delivering gas to the retailer is Scamp Transport Ltd., which provides petroleum transportation services to both Alberta and British Columbia.

They are owned by Parkland Fuel Corporation, a Canadian independent fuel retailing company based in Calgary, Alberta, where a media spokesperson told me that they have no involvement with the site and that — wait for it — I’d need to reach out to Petro Canada for information.

And with that I had come full circle.

Like I said above, it shouldn’t require hours of phone calls and work on behalf of the consumer to get a simple answer to a few simple questions: who sets the prices for fuel around here, how are they set and why is there such a discrepancy between both them and Prince George, as well as other stations within the Northwest (some of which are even higher at times than in Houston, showing how this is not simply a local issue).

Either way, I was feeling a little bitter and overall at a loss, having started and finished at the energy giant’s media line with hours or research but nothing to show for it.

Not at the employees I spoke to throughout the day (they were just doing their jobs and, all things considered, were actually quite helpful) but at how hard it was to navigate a system that, at this point, I’m convinced has been intentionally made confusing and convoluted to confuse and dissuade consumers angry with gas prices and looking for answers to give up.

Because at a certain point, after waiting on hold enough times for enough numbers (which you had to research yourself because they are intentionally hard to find) most people just give up.

Unfortunately for whomever is in charge of pricing gas in Houston — and across the Northwest, for that matter — I am not most people.

Likewise, the harder it is for me to find out how gas is priced in Houston, the more the little voice in the back of my head which guides my editorial intuition tells me to look into this more in-depth.



trevor.hewitt@interior-news.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This photo of approximately 10 years ago shows Laureen Fabian, on the left, and daughter Caterina Andrews. Fabian went missing last October and her daughter is looking for answers. (Contributed photo)
Laureen Fabian’s disappearance remains a mystery

It’s been a year since she went missing

Members of the Houston Fire Department spent Oct. 25 at an old residence at the end of River Bank Drive provided to them by the owner so they could hold a live fire practice. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Derelict house used for fire practice

Practice took place Oct. 25 on River Bank Drive

BC Hydro replaced poles in Houston on Oct. 23 causing a power outage in many spots in Houston. The next power outage for a transformer replacement is for today at Oct. 28 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. in these areas - 2240 to 2275 Baggerman Place; 3710 to 3895 Baggerman Crescent. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Pole replacements in Houston

BC Hydro replaced poles in Houston on Oct. 23 causing a power… Continue reading

District of Houston
Keep on trucking … not

Council is shelving a planned truck stop feasibility study in favour of… Continue reading

District of Houston
District honing in on webcasting of meetings, events

Would further engage residents in District business

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

Most Read