As I take the leisurely ferry ride from Victoria to Vancouver via the Spirit of Vancouver Island, I chuckle about how much cash can be dropped on a single 1 hour and 30 minute trip to the mainland. If you're smart (ie. thrifty), you'll sacrifice the relative inconvenience by parking your car at home to avoid the $43 vehicle charge which many of us have grin and beared in order to escape the plague of island fever. If you're even smarter, you'll pack a lunch. Even if you attempt to pinch your pennies with pre-made deli sandwiches from the ferry's concession, a dollop of tuna salad on a tiny bun will still set you back a ridiculous $6! God forbid you want a refreshing beverage to go along with that!
And this is before the introduction of new fuel charges that will begin to take effect sometime this summer, not to mention the corresponding prices of food. Imagine what a tuna sandwich and bottled water will eventually set you back on a BC ferry?
As global energy consumption continues to far surpass the world supply, West Coast gas prices are following suit. Gas station marquees are displaying a mind-blowing $1.469 a litre, with many grimly predicting that fuel prices will soar to nearly $2.00 a litre by the end of the summer...ahhhhh!
And British Columbia's provincial government has responded. While Bush calls to lift the ban on offshore drilling in U.S. coastal waters in order to increase oil production, B.C. unveiled a new plan to encourage those to conserve energy. On Tuesday, CTV reported that B.C. Finance Minister Carole Taylor introduced a new green budget in which a carbon tax will be phased in startng July 1st. According to this legislation, consumers of diesel and home heating oil will pay 2.7 cents a litre, rising to 8.4 cents a litre by 2012, while those at the pumps will be charged an extra 2.4 cents a litre, and by 2012, this tax will rise to 7.4 cents a litre by 2012.
Many B.C. residents will be less than thrilled by this new tax, but ultimately, all of us still have the choice to use as little or as much fuel as we want. Now, the only difference is that we are being charged accordingly for this precious resource as the days of the seemingly bottomless oil pit have now come to an abrupt end...