Summer and vacations go hand-in-hand, but even travelling within the province seems inaccessible when looking at the pumps.
With COVID-19 restrictions eased as of July 1, Albertans should be getting a taste of freedom. Instead, some are getting hammered by another factor outside of their control: the price of fuel.
Mike Rowland, who tows a 20-foot fifth-wheel trailer behind his Dodge Power Wagon, says he’s unsure whether his family will be able to take the trip from Edmonton to Saskatchewan like they planned.
“To pull the trailer that we have it costs a lot,” said Rowland. “It just costs too much to pull with the gas prices.”
With an average gas mileage of about 9 miles per gallon, the 782-kilometre trip from Edmonton to Regina would cost Rowland about $550 round-trip just in fuel.
The average price of gas in Alberta is now about the same as some Eastern provinces at $1.32 per litre. It’s still nowhere near B.C.’s average of $1.57 per litre.
In 2008 and 2018, gas prices hit record highs of about $1.35 per litre. The way numbers are trending, Alberta could reach new highs this summer.
Chuck Levandosky, who lives in Kinuso, Alta., says he won’t be towing his trailer behind him when he sets out to visit his family in Manitoba this summer.
Because of the price of gas, he’s bringing a tent instead.
“I was going to stay in Alberta. What made me change my mind to go to Manitoba was all the fees that the private campgrounds and the government’s put on their sites. It’s phenomenal.”
“If I spend the $100 extra, I can go back to Manitoba and visit my family. But these private campgrounds are gouging, the government’s gouging. They’re even charging fees if you have a dog,” said Levandosky.
The provincial government introduced new fees at the beginning of June for access to Kananaskis Country and for random camping on Crown lands.
If gas prices are a concern, Brian Robertson, owner of Walk the YYC tour, suggests Albertans take advantage of sights closer to home.
“You could be in the mountains one day and in the Badlands another day and at one of the greatest dinosaur museums in the world another day,” said Robertson.
“I don’t think we promote that well enough. I think we do a very poor job of it.”
In a recent press release, Travel Alberta announced the launch of a new summer 2021 campaign labelled “worth the wait,” which aims to promote Alberta to Albertans and Canadians alike.
If I spend the $100 extra, I can go back to Manitoba and visit my family. But these private campgrounds are gouging, the government’s gouging. They’re even charging fees if you have a dog. – Chuck Levandosky
Travel Alberta’s website describes worth the wait as “an overarching idea designed to elevate our tourism products and encourage Albertans and other Canadians to explore the province this summer, where and when it is responsible. It is meant to remind Canadians of the breathtaking landscapes and authentic experiences across all of Alberta. Worth the wait is a way to inspire travelers that getting to experience Alberta in-person is worth it and will elevate our industry.”
Even though traveling within Alberta may be expensive with current gas prices, the itch to travel and explore is likely to overcome the shock of paying at the pumps. Many will take the hit if it means they can escape and relax for a while after a year of being stuck at home.