TransLink's gas tax is proving too taxing for Hardeep Sidhu's business.
Sidhu is considering closing his Ruskin gas station and general store in Maple Ridge because customers are driving another few kilometres to stations in Mission, which is outside TransLink's jurisdiction and doesn't have the onerous tax.
So while Sidhu was charging $1.28 per litre for regular gas Monday, three stations in Mission's Silverdale area were charging $1.11 per litre.
With a profit of three cents a litre and sales of only about 400 litres a day, Sidhu is making only about $12 a day on gas sales.
"I'm thinking if nothing is going to change, I'm going to close next spring," he said.
When Sidhu bought the business about eight years ago, the price difference between his station and the Mission outlets was only five to six cents a litre.
He invested about $800,000 for new pumps and new tanks and could still compete.
But no longer. Although he pays property taxes, Sidhu complained he wasn't getting any benefits because he has his own well and a septic system.
"I should not be in Metro [Vancouver]," he said. "Then I'd be happy."
TransLink did not respond to a request for an interview on the subject, but Peter Fassbender, the vice-chairman of the Metro Vancouver Mayors Council on Transportation, can sympathize with Sidhu's plight.
Fassbender is the mayor of Langley City and knows businesses in the neighbouring Langley Township suffer the same plight as Sidhu.
Some gas stations in Aldergrove are literally across the street from competition in Abbotsford, which is outside TransLink boundaries and also escapes the gas tax.
"I don't have a solution," said Fassbender, who doesn't know of any way there could be an exemption for Sidhu or similarly afflicted businesses.
Current legislation allows TransLink to expand east to Hope and north to Pemberton, something Fassbender supports.
"I think the reality is, this is one region in terms of the future of transportation," he said.
But areas outside Metro Vancouver are not very enthusiastic about agreeing to higher taxation just to be under TransLink's umbrella.
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