It's hard to operate a business when someone can buy the same product significantly cheaper only a short drive away. That is what Amherst area gas stations have had to deal with in recent years, as many local motorists have been crossing the border to fill their vehicles up in New Brunswick, where gas prices routinely range from four to seven cents per litre lower than the prices here in Nova Scotia.
Unfortunately, that problem would only be passed on to other operators if the government moves ahead with its proposal to stagger gas taxes across the province, thereby making prices lower at gas stations near the border. This would mean Amherst gas stations would be able to offer fuel at lower prices than stations in other Cumberland County communities like Springhill, Oxford and Parrsboro.
These stations would take a hit if their customers know they can fill up cheaper while they are in Amherst on other errands. Some might not survive.
That being said, the status quo is not a fair situation for bordertown operators, and the government deserves credit for addressing the issue. But a more far-reaching solution would be more fair and less complicated.
Yes, Nova Scotians appreciate that tax revenue from fuel goes towards much-needed roadwork, but why not reach an agreement with neighbouring governments in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island to maintain a standardized "Maritime" tax rate on fuel? If that means Nova Scotia has to lower its rate, than we will understand if it has to make up that for revenue elsewhere.
A solution is needed, but shifting the problem to someone else's lap is not it.