Ponoka’s gas prices and dog droppings

This week's editorial discusses the price of fuel.

Due to job, family and other commitments, I have to drive a lot and I have to fuel up a lot, which is why I keep a very close eye on gas prices.

On the day these lines were written, the price of gas was 92.9 cents/litre in Lacombe, 98.9 in Ponoka, 96.9 in Wetaskiwin and 99.9 in Stettler. The price in Ponoka had just come down from 102.9 on Thursday, May 28.

Because I made it a habit of tracking down the fluctuations in gas prices, I also observed how Ponoka gas stations suddenly started to charge much higher for the unavoidable expense item as compared to the neighbouring communities: About two weeks ago, one gas station at the northern end of town suddenly decided to charge six cents more than the others, when I inquired with an employee, I was told that the price of gas was raised based on the delivery price to the station. I was in town that day and went around to see how the others would respond. By that night, the northern gas station remained the only one charging the high price; the next morning, however, all gas stations had raised their prices to the level of the north-end station. It has to be also noted that on the two days mentioned, the price of crude oil did not show any significant moves either way on the international markets.

This situation immediately reminded me of the last two weeks of June 2014,  when all Ponoka gas stations, having been touched by a magic wand, as it were, had raised their prices by about eight cents  in the run up to the Ponoka Stampede week. The prices stayed up there until one week after the end of the stampede. Then I thought probably the gas stations were warming up their display counters in preparation for this year’s stampede week.

OK, we all understand that we are living in a market economy, and in theory, in a market economy competition drives down the prices as supply and demand creates a balance between the ask and the bid. But in some strange way, in our peculiar example in Ponoka gas situation, it is the supply that singlehandedly drives the prices and the direction is only up and not down.

One question here is whether the residents of this community, many of whom dedicate countless volunteer hours to make sure that the Stampede goes flawlessly deserve to be ripped off for living in Ponoka.

Another question is whether the increased business volume that comes with the stampede week is not enough to quench the appetite of the gas station managers for fattened margins.

It will be interesting to see how many more cents per litre we are going to pay for gas in our town during the weeks of Stampede 2015.

Having touched on one local issue, I am really curious about what (or if) the town administration is planning to do about a few less than civilized dog owners inhabiting our town.

Now that the snow has melted, dog droppings have become very visible and out of personal experience, I can verify that seeing them on the pavement as one makes one’s way to office on foot in the morning is a nauseating feeling.

On one of those mornings, I have run into one such dog owner who, after letting her dog relieve herself on the pavement, just walked away without any hint of embarrassment.   And when I felt I should remind her of responsibility to clean up after her dog, she simply said “Later.”

With its tree-lined streets in lush green, it may be a joy to walk in Ponoka to the sound of chirping birds, but it can turn into a very unpleasant experience, too, just because some people fail to live up to their responsibilities.

Shouldn’t there be a way of telling people that living in a community requires some etiquette?