September 8, 2011 — read Chad Ingram’s Minden Times article, “Gas Pains in Oxtongue Lake”


At the 2010 Oxtongue Lake AGM, concern was expressed by local gas station owners about new rules and legislation being introduced that will make it extremely difficult for small independent gas retailers to remain viable. The new rules are aimed at improving public safety and protection of the environment. However, the extra cost of implementing the new rules is likely to be considerable and must be borne by the gas station owners.

While everyone supports better safety and environmental protection, it is unfair to expect small rural operators to have to follow the same stringent requirements as their large urban counterparts. If the new legislation pushes smaller operators out of business, we could find ourselves in a situation in which there is no gas available on Highway 60 from Huntsville through Algonquin Park to Whitney, a distance of some 200 km. This not only affects motorists but will have a serious impact on tourism when gas supplies are not available for boats, snowmobiles and other recreational vehicles.

It is time to start supporting our independent gas retailers — Helsel’s General Store and Parkway Resort and Trading Post — by writing to your local Councillor and MPP, asking them to help find a solution to this issue before it is too late.

– John Lawrence, Newsletter Editor
OLRA Executive


An open letter from Colin, Brenda, and James Smith, the family who run the Parkway Resort and Trading Post on Hwy 60 in Oxtongue Lake, approximately 40k east of Huntsville

Part of our operation is a Gas Station; new rules and legislation have been and still are being introduced that are supposed to ensure the safety of the public and the protection of the environment, however every one of these rules is an extra cost which we are now unable to absorb.

I understand and support the need for rules in the gas retail business and also the need for policing them but every time a rule is introduced some else gets rich, the TSSA, the companies that carry out the testing, the manufactures of equipment etc and everyone else on the gravy train.

There is a misconception that we make a killing on gas, this is not so. Because we are an independent we and other independent stations cannot get our wholesale gas at a competitive price.

We normally pay six to ten cents more a litre to buy our gas wholesale that the price that gas is being sold retail in Huntsville, if you have a Canadian Tire card or Petro Canada card (incidentally the same gas we retail) you will get an extra five to eight cents off the retail price. As you see it is not a flat playing field. If we put the price up to actually try to make a profit we are accused of gouging.

We and the other independent gas stations are now having to get out of gas because we are no longer willing or able to subsidies it out of our other sales.

You may consider this to be market forces or survival of the fittest, now consider the bigger picture.When independents close on Hwy 60 you will have to drive from Huntsville approx 200 kilometers (eighty of it through Algonquin Park) before you get to another gas station.

The big companies will not fill the gap as the volume of sales is not great enough, in the winter when the temperatures hit -35 degrees C it will be downright dangerous.

People living, holidaying or who own businesses in the rural communities of Oxtongue Lake or Dwight will have to drive forty kilometers into Huntsville or Dorset a round trip of eighty kilometers just to get gas for the car, truck, boat, snow blower or generator in the case of one of our frequent power outages.

Tourism will also suffer badly especially snowmobilers who will avoid [us] like the plague rather than run dry out in the bush.

A gas station out here like it or not is an essential public service, unlike Toronto or Ottawa you cannot pop out to a local store or restaurant, we have no buses, no subway and a taxi is a expensive luxury, until we find a viable and reliable alternative to that polluting monster the internal combustion engine we need gas!

All we are asking is that it be recognized that there is a need for rural gas stations, an area that large gas companies will not venture into, as profit margins are too low.

The only way that this will happen is if tax breaks (return the gas tax that the townships get back to the independent rural gas stations) or subsidies are introduced to relieve the burden of legislation, can you see the big gas companies taking a cut in profits to allow the independents to make enough money to stay open even into the near future.

Our expenditure this year 2010, just on meeting the ever changing requirements and paying TSSA fees, not including running costs and maintenance, is three times what we make in gas sales.

Colin, Brenda, and James Smith
Parkway Resort and Trading Post