By Chadd Cawson
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As the tensions between Ukraine and Russia continue to rise, so do the gas prices across Canada and the U.S. In an interview with BBC on Feb. 24, President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Russia had nearly 200,000 troops and thousands of combat vehicles lined-up along the Ukrainian border months prior to the invasion earlier that day.  While the attack was not a complete shock, the destruction, and killing of innocent civilians that is happening has shocked many countries in disgust. Efforts have been made from the G7 Nation, and others to aid the Ukrainian military. Canada was the first of the G7 nations to ban all oil imports from Russia.

On Monday, February 28 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a BBC interview that oil revenues have helped to prop up President Vladimir Putin and Russian oligarchs.  While according to Statistics Canada, Canada only imported $289 million of energy products last year. Russia is the third largest oil producer in the world behind the United States and Saudi Arabia. With Canada banning all Russian oil products, and other countries following suit, there is a mass scramble for a product that was already in high demand coming out of two years of COVID and lockdowns, say experts in a Mar. 4 National Post interview. Gas prices were already on the rise before the attack on the Ukraine, but recent banning of Russian oil in support of the Ukraine has made the price at the pumps skyrocket, surpassing our already higher projected 2022 rates. 

Dan McTeague, the President of Canadians for Affordable Energy told the Calgary Herald on Jan. 13, that Canadians were going to see a 25 per cent increase in gas prices of at least 165.0 a litre, long before the first shot was fired in the Ukraine.  The banning, and removal of Russian oils in some countries overnight, according to Rory Johnston, author of the newsletter, Commodity Context, has left oil buyers scrambling for what’s left at higher prices therefore affecting local economies across the country. 

“Economically and officially, what is hitting us all is the cost of fuel,” Invermere Mayor Al Miller told the Pioneer. “What I’d like to stress more than anything is no one likes to see what’s happening in the Ukraine, the lives that are being taken is heartbreaking and uncalled for.” 

 Mayor Clara Reinhardt of Radium Hot Springs echoed how the most obvious impact across the country is the cost of fuel.  “The crisis has impacted everyone. We can’t pretend it isn’t happening and most of us are in a bit of shock,” said Reinhardt.  “The outpouring of support both emotionally and practically from Canadians has been heartwarming.” 

GasBuddy shows that our Albertan neighbours are paying the lowest in the country at 169.3 a litre while gas prices in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island have reached over $2 a litre. 

The Columbia Valley is currently sitting at an average gas price of $188.9 per litre, and though daunting, is still cheaper than parts of Ontario, the Maritimes, and Quebec. However, prices are still expected to rise. “Gas prices are way too high right now, wages are not enough to keep up with the gas prices,” Vick Singh, manager of Lucky Strike Gas, told the Pioneer.  “We try to be cheaper than other stations in the surrounding area, but this has all been bad for business as you are not going to drive further than you have to, to fill up.” While the manager at Invermere Centex was too frustrated with what is currently happening to comment, Zakir Hayder owner of Radium Gas Plus had this to say; “It’s affecting everybody, and everyday life.” 

In a Mar. 10 interview Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Global News that Canada will be sending $30 million dollars to Ukraine for support.  “Canada will help,” says Prime Minister Trudeau. “Canada is there to help.” With no movement towards a ceasefire as of late last week, there is no end in sight for this war. Ukrainians are holding steadfast for their freedom and their country.

Invermere Mayor Al Miller said that as the war continues, we could see other commodities such as the price of food being affected like it has affected fuel. The Pioneer reached out to local grocery store owners and managers who have said they have not seen any big changes. “It’s too soon to see what’s going to happen,” says Valley Foods owner Sydney-Anne Porter. “Manufacturers, and wholesalers can’t pivot on a dime; they do their best to hold off raising costs for as long as they can.”  

Sobeys Manager Rick Lockhart also hasn’t seen any stock shortages that weren’t already there before the recent attack on Ukraine. “We’ve only stopped selling any products from Russia which was a corporate decision.” says Lockhart. 

While what is happening is putting a strain on wallets across the country, forcing us to budget our daily road trips; Mayor of Radium Clara Reinhardt helps put it in perspective for valley residents. “This will be a very long journey for Ukrainians,” says Mayor Reinhardt. “We must remember there are still other crises in other countries in the world, and that we are very fortunate to live here in the Columbia Valley!”

Higher gas prices, while a shock and frustrating to us all is still a small cost compared to the price other countries in crisis are paying. There are also easy ways to help offset these rising fuel prices, including planning your route ahead of time, using GPS mapping systems to ensure most efficient route, accelerating gently, avoid speeding, and turning off your engine rather than idling.