Drivers urged to avoid panic-buying gas as Malahat closures limit fuel supply


The nightly closure of the Malahat Highway over the next week due to flood damage is also impacting fuel supply on the South Island, but companies are pleading with drivers to avoid the urge to panic-buy gasoline.

Many cars were seen lining up at the pumps Wednesday, and local company Peninsula Co-op warned of instability in the days to come.

“As clean-up from the recent rainfall continues to impact roadways, petroleum retailers across the Island are experiencing challenges obtaining stable fuel supply, including Peninsula Co-op,” the company said in a statement posted to its website.

“We are working hard to mitigate the outages but expect it will take several days to stabilize. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through these challenges.”

Drivers reported that some gas stations, such as the Co-op at West Saanich Road and Keating Cross Road, were out of regular and mid-grade gas, with only premium remaining.

Other drivers were seen pulling up to the pumps with gas cans, filling them up in anticipation of shortages to come.

However, Erik Gault, director of operations for Peninsula Co-op, said people should avoid hoarding or panic-buying gas because trucks are still getting through on the Malahat, just in a trickle rather than the regular number that come in each day.

Gault said the Hatch Point terminal in Cobble Hill is where Co-op gets most of its supply. On a normal day, between four and seven trucks arrive from north of the Malahat, with most travelling overnight, but because of the closures only one truck has gotten through so far. That supply has been split across several stations.

He also said all gas stations in Greater Victoria get their gas shipped over the Malahat, so the closures will eventually impact all stations, adding he doesn’t expect the issue to resolve until next week.

Gault urged people to avoid using the Malahat unless absolutely necessary so that gas and food trucks can get through.

Currently the highway is shut down nightly for repairs following flood damage and open to single-lane alternating traffic only during the day, in 30-minute intervals.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Transportation said that between Nov. 17-22, the stretch of highway will be closed from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The evening closures will allow the Ministry of Transportation, along with Emcon Services, to restore parts of the highway which sustained damage due to flooding.

Because the situation is creating a major bottleneck on the arterial route, Emcon is asking drivers to steer clear of the Malahat altogether unless it’s for essential travel.

Jeff LawrenceJeff Lawrence

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