Survey says

Darrell Cole
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Chamber trying to determine how many do cross-border shopping

Survey says

AMHERST - The Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce is trying to determine how many people cross the border to purchase gasoline and other products in New Brunswick.

The chamber has begun surveying people online in hopes of gathering statistics it will take to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board hearing in Amherst later this month.

"We're asking some pretty general questions about where you buy your gas, when you buy your gas, is it mostly in New Brunswick or mostly in Amherst," chamber president Randy Smith said.

The utility and review board will be in Amherst on Wednesday, Jan. 27 for hearings regarding the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulations and the viability of markets affected by their proximity to the provincial border.

It will ask if new zones are required to preserve the viability of businesses located near the border and should the minimum retail price be changed to preserve the viability of those businesses.

"Our members are complaining about the different price and it's a pretty serious thing because it's cutting into their sales. We believe it would be much better if things were aligned closer," said Smith. "It's a gas issue, but it's more than that and it's hurting the local economy. Our members are feeling the pinch and we're losing commercial activity in the town, and it's not just gas."

In the few days the survey has been active, Smith said the overwhelming majority of participants are reporting they do purchase their gasoline in Aulac or Sackville, N.B., but an even more disturbing trend is how many people are continuing up the road to Moncton to purchase other goods.

"It's an unfair position we're in and somehow it has to change," said Smith.

The previous Conservative government refused to follow New Brunswick's lead several years ago and eliminate the motive fuel tax saying that money is ear-marked for paving projects.

During last summer's election campaign, the NDP and Cumberland North candidate Brian Skabar suggested lowering the tax in the Amherst area to help border retailers compete. Soon after the election, the matter was turned over to the utility and review board.

The survey, sent by email to chamber members and others, also asks respondents how much they spend on gas and other items in New Brunswick and what other products they purchase in New Brunswick because of a lower price and lower tax.

It also asks what should be done to get residents to purchase their gas locally.

Smith said the two provinces have differing tax systems in that there is no motive fuel tax in New Brunswick. Because of this, gas is four to seven cents cheaper on any given day.

As well, Smith said, New Brunswick's interrupter clause allows the price to change more quickly than in Nova Scotia.

The chamber plans to close the survey on Wednesday and make its findings public on Friday.

Organizations: Area Chamber of Commerce, Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulations NDP

Geographic location: New Brunswick, AMHERST, Aulac Sackville Moncton Cumberland North Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Jack on the rocks
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Take the gas out of the situation.Smokes are $30 cheaper in Sackville than Amherst per carton.Gas is worth getting if you go for multiple items.I won't drive to Aulac for 5 cents a litre,not worth it,but smokes,yes.

  • DJ
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Joe Blow: You are right that people do go to Moncton to shop in part due to a greater variety of stores however this is not the problem that is being addressed here. The problem is that for key products like gasoline which people need everyday there is a huge difference in price between Amherst and Aulac/Sackville. When you combine the price difference in gas as well as increasing disparity in prices of cigarettes, alcohol etc. the Nova Scotia government is really hurting the business community in Amherst as it can't compete on price. If the difference were only a cent a litre on gas it likely wouldn't be a big deal but on any given day the price will be 3 to 10 cents cheaper per litre in NB. I applaud the Chamber for taking a stand on this and trying to help the local businesses.

    I'm not sure if the survey has been put on the chamber wesbsite ( but if not they should.

  • Jeff
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Where can I find the online survey? I was unaware they were doing a survey and the artical fails to point me to it.

  • Troy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Well i have to admit that if I was still in Amherst and gas was 10 cents a litre cheaper in Aulac and smokes were alot cheaper there too,,I would probably drive there also,, I know that sucks for the retailers in Amherst and the government has to do something about it because it is not fair. But out here if gas goes up at one station ,,it goes up the same at every single station on the island ,,there is no compitition it is truly fixed,,they have all gotten together here and said if one goes up they all go up. And it is NOT regulated here.At least back home you have a choice and you can shop the prices,,we don't even have that luxury here,,we just get it in the behind where ever we go all the time.

  • Shawanoswe
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Our family purchases all of our gas, groceries and other items in Amherst. My wife buys her smokes in Amherst. We buy our milk at Irving. We live in Amherst, so we will spend our money in Amherst.

    The local businesses support, various charities and sports teams. This means when I purchase items in Amherst, hopefully the money stays in Amherst.

    The only time we go to Moncton is if we cannot get the items in Amherst or we buy them on-line. Sure you might have to pay a little more, but buying from local shops, helps our local economy. If you want to support the New Brunswick economy than move in to New Brunswick. We all live in Amherst for different reasons and I will continue to support the local economy.

    Sure, if I am driving in to New Brunswick for a specific reason I will stop in Aulac or elsewhere in NB and get gas, I am not stupid, but we do not go there for the sole purpose of gas, groceries or smokes!

    New to Amherst and Proud to Support the local economy!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jim
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Joe Blow, how do you know why I go to Moncton? I'd like to tell you that I DO go for the prices. Gas is almost 10 cents cheaper, milk is less expensive, I dont smoke but cigarettes are also cheaper. I shop at the moncton superstore or sobeys, not the stores in Amherst becasue I figure, while I'm in moncton, i might as well get my groceries too. So it's not selection. Thanks for trying to sound like you know something though!

    You must be a former amherst resident are you, because you always seem to be trying to stick to the residents with your there's nothing that can be done & quit complaining attitude.

    I've emailed the chamber to ask where the link can be found, i'll post it here.

  • amherstguy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Thanks Mr. Tooley for reminding these people that it is not the NB businesses who are supporting every fundraising event in Amherst area. In october I attented 4 fundraisers and was always happy to see that local businesses were supporting these. Not once did I see certificates from businesses from New Brunswick. COme on folks, we have to support our own, they support us. As for the difference in gas prices...go to SuperStore and get your gas there. They will give you a 3.5 cent per litre coupon back. Is it really worth the drive to Aulac and back to save 2 dollars a week???? Gas and time to get there, you are actually down money then.

    Keep Amherst alive....Suport local businesses. Get a grip.

  • Icy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Mr. Tooley - welcome to Amherst, and thanks for your refreshing comments. I agree with you; however you mention that you sometimes go to Moncton if you cannot get the items in Amherst. Well, I find that to be the usual case - recently I went to our local big-box building supply store to buy glass tile, a commonly used decorative item. They DID NOT KNOW WHAT IT WAS! In Moncton, every building supply store had oodles of it, in every colour. This is a huge problem - lack of training, poor inventory practices, and just plain apathy.

  • HB
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    You can find a link to the survey on the Chamber's website:

  • Survey
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    It was always cheaper to get gas in Aulac.In the 1960;s It was 35cent:s per gallon;And in Amherst it was 55 cent:s per gallon.

  • Carol
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Amherst: 107.6 NB: 99.9

    Difference: 7.7 cents per litre x full tank of 55 L = $4.24 savings per tank. I go through a tank a week so that's $4.24 savings per week for a short drive across the border.
    That's $16.96 per month difference - for no reason! we're right next store!

  • Jim
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    The chamber has now posted the link on their site, but here it is if you want to go directly:

  • Mom
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I try to buy most of my groceries in town but refuse to pay through the nose for milk so I gladly cross the border and buy it at Jean Coutu where a 4L bag costs $5.99. (Plus, you get Airmiles on your purchases.)
    I buy my gas in Amherst at the Co-op. The bonus to buying it there, for me, is that I get Co-op cash back because I am a member. (But you can bet your bottom dollar that if Sackville had a Co-op gas bar I'd drive over there and get it.)

  • Joe
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I'm going to continue to shop in Moncton when I want and I'll continue to shop in amherst when I want. Whether superstore in amherst gets my money or the one in moncton, it all goes to the same people in ontario.

    But hey here's hoping you can find some way to stop people from shopping elsewhere...topic du jour yet again!

    I'll predict nothing will change, people will gripe, vote in some conservative guy who will do nothing as the last conservative guy.

  • colin
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Do away with the Provincial Utility Board, save us the cost in wages for its members and set our gas prices according to what the NB utility Board suggests.
    I completed an on-line survey about the cost of gas in this area, one question was should the government lower the price of gas on the boardering communities and have the price of gas at the remainder of NS service stations be 2 cents more, what a redicilious question.
    if you take an american barrel, which is 35 gallons or 175.5 litres. If say the price of oil was $70.00 a barrel that's $2.00 a gallon the mark up at $1.07 per litre for gas is $4.82 a gallon minus $2.00 equals $2.82 for refining, profits and taxes for someone.
    Bottom line is for the NS government to set our prices by New Brunswicks, and spent the fuel tax money on the roads, not the reserves, where it is wasted

  • Countrygal
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Buying gas and getting money off food (or gas with Sobeys) may be a thing of the past. The Review Board apparently is looking at that practice as smaller retailers say it isn't fair to them and they cannot compete.

  • Don
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    It seems to me that this survey should have been printed & mailed to all residences in amherst and area. How else can you gather true statistics on the issue?

  • william
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    get the gas and other products in stores and keep walmart from sending so much money to the states and the economy will bounce back that is what hurts amherst

  • Greg
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Shawanoswe, I agree with your principle and also do the majority of my shopping in town. However, as I work in Moncton I always make a point to get gas there (or on the way there in Sackville).

    Unfortunately, there are many who do not have the good fortune to make the choice between saving money and supporting the local economy and the need to buy at the best possible price is paramount.

    On the topic of this survey though, are we not just affirming what is already known?

  • Tim
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Where can a person go to fill out this survey because I go to Sackville once a week to fill up, get milk, smokes etc.

  • Joe
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    People shop in Moncton because it is a larger centre and its close by, it has little to do with price, its selection and variety and a fun shopping trip on the weekend. There is also a better theatre.

    What does the Chamber think the Government is to do about this? Perhaps like at the american border we can start penalizing people for shopping in NB? Price is not the reason people go to NB to shop. There is nothing they can do but more griping.

    First it was Sunday shopping, now we have that and nothing has changed to stem the so called tide of people going to moncton.

    Wanna stop people from shopping in NB? Get rid of the double lane highway, put up a toll at the border crossing basically make it as inconvenient as possible to get there because right now its reallllly convenient....and that is the problem.

    People shop in Moncton not because of cheaper prices but because of the greater selection and things to do. Nothing is going to change *the trip* to Moncton.

  • Know it all
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I buy my gas as well at the coop gas bar , you get 3 cents off for being a member why would anyone drive the extra 10 miles to save 2 cents a litre ? is your time worth nothing ? I don't smoke and as per saving on milk - pharasave as it every weekend on cheap . as per people driving to aulac it's the same old story - line up to go jump in the lake only because someone else is doing it , people here never could think for themselves - they are just like cattle mooo .

    eveyone here should be at the meeting on the hearing on Wedesday Jan . 27 at 9am Fire hall .
    The gas prices will change if we all show up but if nobody goes they will leave it the same . so get off your lazy a$$es and be there losers

  • Parrsboro Boy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    At the Irving in Parrsboro, self serve gas is 112.7 per litre. Amherst is 107.6. Where is the fairness in this pricing. Thats why i go once amonth to Moncton and buy 50 gallons of gas at the super store. I don't go just for the gas. Milk, smokes and costco. Saving money is what it boils down to.