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Gas price scare
Milk shortages, brief hike at pump leave residents wondering when Deh Cho Bridge will finally pay off

Cody Punter
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 27, 2013

Residents expressed shock and dismay Friday morning as gas prices inexplicably shot up to $1.469 a litre for regular gas before coming back down to $1.389 later in the afternoon, and grocery stores were emptied of milk and other perishable food items.

NNSL photo/graphic

Lionel Marcinkoski is one of several residents who expressed frustration about the jump in gas prices in the city on Friday. - Cody Punter/NNSL photo

The immediate target of ire for some people was the recently completed Deh Cho Bridge. It's construction was supposed to bring price stability and end food shortages during the annual breakup of the Mackenzie River. That was before last week, however, when businesses and residents were told by the Department of Transportation with little more than 24-hour notice that commercial loads crossing the bridge would have to be reduced by 25 per cent due to the softened conditions on Highway 3 brought on by spring melt, and the suddenly higher volume of trucks driving over it.

"The purpose of the bridge, was so that prices in Yellowknife would go down," said Dong Huynh. "But that's not happening, they're going up."

"It's another situation where the public is being ripped off, by the big gas companies," said Lionel Marcinkoski, who was lucky enough to fill up after the prices went back down.

Higher gas prices Friday morning wasn't the only complaint. Shoppers at both Extra Foods stores were struggling to find milk. Not a single jug of milk could be found on store shelves at the Old Airport Road Extra Foods on Friday morning.

The store had placed a sign in the empty dairy section explaining that, "Due to a shipping issue beyond our control, 4 L milk jugs are not available."

Pat, who declined to give her last name, said her grandchildren have no problem finishing off a four-litre jug of milk when they to come visit. She said she is upset the jump in food prices has not lead to higher quality services, adding she "can't believe it, especially now that we have the bridge."

Nancy Jacobs-Young runs a daycare in the city and came to the store to buy milk for the children. She said she is frustrated because, "the whole point of the bridge was to eliminate shortages in the spring and fall."

She points to the group of children who have come shopping with her in dismay.

"I've got all these kids and I've got no milk. What am I going to do?" asked Jacobs-Young.

News/North was still waiting for an explanation from Extra Foods owners Loblaws in Toronto at press time. Jeff Kincaid, business development manager at the Yellowknife Co-op, said the prices at the store's gas bar were raised temporarily Friday morning after noticing the Shell gas station on Range Lake Road had hiked the price of regular gas to $1.469 the night before. He said they didn't immediately raise gas prices that evening to give co-op members "fair warning." Food shelves at the co-op, meanwhile, appeared to be in relatively good shape when News/North visited Friday.

"We raised (the price of gas) up this morning and once we did, Shell lowered theirs back down, so we lowered ours back down to where ours was (before)," said Kincaid.

"Our mandate is that we're competitively priced on the market."

Phone calls to the Shell station were directed to its head office in Calgary, Alta. but no one at its media office number picked up the phone.

The Department of Transportation announced Friday that the limit on legal axle weight for commercial trucks will be going up to 90 per cent from 75 per cent on Monday.

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