NDP propose harmonized fuel tax at border

Darrell Cole
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AMHERST - Roy Pettigrew feels an NDP proposal to level the playing field on gas taxes may have saved his business.

"The gas tax killed my business," said Pettigrew, who was forced to close the West Amherst Petro-Can several months ago because of the differing tax regimes between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. "I lost a third of my business because of the tax. If I were still in business this probably would save me. It's too late for me now, but it might save someone else."

Cumberland North NDP candidate Brian Skabar said Thursday that an NDP government would bring in legislation to ensure that taxes levied on fuel sales in Amherst and other communities near the border would be adjusted to allow gas stations to compete with those in Aulac and Sackville, N.B.

"The price of gas is usually about six cents a litre cheaper in New Brunswick and that is having devastating effects on service stations in Amherst and northern Cumberland County," said Skabar. "The NDP's legislation will help service stations near the border, save my neighbours' time and money and will reduce the loss of gasoline tax revenue to the province."

Skabar said the NDP would mandate the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to study and issue and recommend appropriate pricing to help businesses such as Pettigrew's. He said a similar model is currently in use in Manitoba that adjusts the price of gas according to the distance from the border and eliminates the incentive to cross-border shop for fuel.

The NDP candidate feels such a measure would also enhance the resale value of Pettigrew's former gas station.

While critics will question giving one part of the province a tax break, Skabar counters that people in Cumberland County are already taxed to travel to the rest of the province by the $4 toll on the Cobequid Pass.

Since it adopted regulated gas prices two years ago the provincial government has steadfastly refused to adjust the motive fuel tax, something the New Brunswick government did to help independent gas retailers. The province has dedicated those fuel taxes for road construction.

Pettigrew said the issue is one of taxation, not regulation as alleged by the Liberals.

"The Liberals and some of the press have made a good story with negative publicity on regulation. This is a tax issue, not a regulation issue," said Pettigrew, who noticed many of his regular customers started travelling a few kilometres across the border to Aulac when New Brunswick scrapped the motive fuel tax.


Organizations: Cumberland North NDP, Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Liberals

Geographic location: New Brunswick, AMHERST, Aulac Nova Scotia Northern Cumberland Manitoba Cumberland County

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Recent comments

  • amherstguy
    January 18, 2010 - 11:13

    This has nothing to do with being proud of ourselves or not. As i stated, I feel badly that someone lost their business but you can't expect that potetial buyers, struggling themselves, will bypass cheaper fuel to drive several kilometers out of their way to spend more money. It is unfortunate that Roy did not get the customers that he had built for. There is no doubt in my mind, had he built closer to town, had comparible gas prices, that he would have still been in business.

  • amherstguy
    January 18, 2010 - 11:05

    So sad that someone's business closed but come on now Roy, the tax didn't kill your business. LOCATION did. It is evident that you chose your spot to attract highway business and not town business. My God, did you really think that people were going to bypass cheaper gas at local gas bars to drive to your station. Be real, you thought that you were going to capture everyone on their way to NB and PEI. Unfortunately they drove on by because there really weren't many good reasons to stop.

  • Roy Killed 'er
    January 18, 2010 - 11:03

    Roy killed Roy's business, you can't charge 2 cents or more then everyone else in town and expect to survive...the only few kms difference I drove. was between the co-op and the petro

  • Robert
    January 18, 2010 - 10:59

    Is there something wrong with wanting to change an unpopular program that affects the entire province? Regardless of what some people think we are still a part of Nova Scotia and should all benefit together. I could say *screw them so long as we gain* but that isn't how it should be. Why be petty on a subject that affects us all? Moving the pain from one locality to another solves nothing. It simply places the load on someone else. Let's try to remove it all together. Put everyone on the same footing so we can all compete with NB instead of pitting us against each other in the same province.

  • peter
    January 18, 2010 - 10:58

    As for the issue of Amherst being cheaper, than the rest of the province, if this goes through, well not only do we pay the 4 dollar toll for the privilege of visiting the rest of our province, but Halifax gas is one cent cheaper already than gas in Amherst. Lets be on par with Sackville, that way our gas stations in Amherst will not suffer and consumers will be able to get their gas her at the same price.

  • Moriarty
    January 18, 2010 - 10:58

    Robert from Amherst wrote:

    ...It'll never fly. If the province drops , or harmonizes, the gas tax in this area then areas at the *new tax* edge, those areas abutting us who will have a 5 cent difference, will begin to feel the big pinch we feel now.


    Robert, you're ignoring Brian and Roy's point about the tool on the Pass. The toll negates any pinch they might feel. This is good public policy, and it's about time!

  • know it all
    January 18, 2010 - 10:56

    poor management closed the petrocan - not gas taxes - you can't charge 10 cents for a 5 cent item and expect to stay in business - poor service didn't help either - facts

  • Moriarty
    January 18, 2010 - 10:52

    Look folks, Skabar seems to be the only one who's not in it for himself. This isn't a politically motivated announcement like Rodney and Keith's, this is something that really concerns Brian as a resident of Amherst.

  • Robert
    January 18, 2010 - 10:51

    The toll doesn't exist for those willing to drive around it. The toll is another entirely different issue that needs to be dealt with seperately. Most folks don't think the toll should exist at all and would rather see it removed all together. Should you attach this stipulation the the harmonized tax idea then you never get rid of the toll. The two will be completely linked to eachother at that point. View the tax idea as a seperate issue not attched to the toll. That way you won't get burned a year or two down the road when they tell you that it's either the tax or the toll. Do you really want to be forced to choose between the two if it came down to it? I would rather both issues getting fixed as opposed to just one.

    The way this idea stands is that if you move the tax line you move the pain and anger. Either way somone is going to be mad. Just keep the pressure on them to remove the tax entirely across the entire province... not just here. Bandaid solutions rarely ever solve the problem.

  • Robert
    January 18, 2010 - 10:49

    It'll never fly. If the province drops , or harmonizes, the gas tax in this area then areas at the *new tax* edge, those areas abutting us who will have a 5 cent difference, will begin to feel the big pinch we feel now. It would simply be moving the pain from one location to another. Someone is going to hurt unless the entire province does it all at the same time. We drop our tax but those in Sprinhill or Oxford don't get to? It'll start all over again only it'll be them screaming this time and not us.

    Nope... unless we all do it at once it's a bad idea.

  • Can't
    January 18, 2010 - 10:44

    Way to go guys!!! Nothing feels better to kick someone when they're down!! Hope you feel proud of yourselves. Let's hope none of you open a business and hope for the best and get put over a barrel by your own government.

  • Moriarty
    January 18, 2010 - 10:28

    Robert from Amherst, NS writes:

    ...just keep the pressure on them to remove the tax entirely across the entire province...


    Ahh, well now see, you were sounding reasonable until you came out with that.

    Like I said, this is good public policy. This is what politics SHOULD be about. A local candidate fighting for local issues.