Local businesses affected by high fuel costs need community support

By Vivian Collings
It is no secret that there has been a steep increase in the price of gasoline in Ontario over the past few months with an average price at 210.6 cents per litre for regular unleaded gasoline as of June 13.
This increase has undeniably affected Haliburton County businesses in many different ways, from worries about less visitors in the Highlands to the increase in cost of goods.
“The only positive thing that we can pull from this situation is that most businesses are in this together. The increase in gas prices and therefore cost of goods are affecting everybody,” said Clay Glecoff, manager and co-owner (with wife, Amy) of Glecoff’s Family Store in Haliburton.
The Canadian Fuels Association outlined four factors that contribute to the price of gasoline. The first is the price of crude oil, which fluctuates according to supply and demand, and global events can affect the price. The second are wholesale prices of refined gasoline, which can also fluctuate based on world events like refinery incidents, extreme weather, and the war in Ukraine. Third, gasoline retailers are independent businesses that are able to set their own margins for fuel costs. Last, taxes account for an average of 47 cents per litre of gasoline in Canada.

Ashley McAllister, director of operations and strategic initiatives at Abbey Gardens in Algonquin Highlands, said, “For us, the biggest concern is whether the gas prices will impact how often cottagers decide to come up to the county this summer. The increase has meant that many people will be avoiding extra travel, and we aren’t sure whether we’ll see that reflected in seasonal weekend traffic as well.”
Haliburton County is also without housing and rental options for both seasonal and long-term residents, and the rise in gas prices has exacerbated the situation by making commuting more costly for employees.
McAllister said, “We’re also struggling with staffing. Without adequate housing solutions in the area, particularly for students, we’ve struggled to find summer students that can find a place to stay in the county, and commuting isn’t as feasible with the current gas prices.”
She said that Abbey Gardens would usually have their summer staff finalized by the end of May, but this year, 30 per cent of their roles still need to be filled.
“We’re also seeing the impact on cost of goods in the store as delivery fees have increased. As a charitable organization, even a small increase can be really detrimental, but the staggering increase has meant that we’re being notified about shipping increases almost weekly, so we have to constantly adjust,” McAllister said.

Glecoff said that the high price of gas has impacted their store in many ways. It has made already-costly pandemic prices for goods soar further.
“The cost of goods from our suppliers has gone up 10 per cent or more. A shipping container that used to cost the manufacturers $5,000 from China now costs upwards of $20,000, and this happened before gas prices started soaring.”
He also said that shipping prices have increased along with the price of goods.
“Some suppliers have added a fuel charge on their invoices and some shipping companies have done the same,” he said.
Glecoff said that the price of their goods are unfortunately increasing daily as a direct result of the increased shipping rates.
Kim Emmerson, owner of Emmerson Lumber Limited in Haliburton, said that their employees are also feeling the impacts of high gas prices in their personal lives.
He said that inventory costs as well as delivery to their customers is more costly.
“Customers over the long-term will end up paying more for their consumer goods. Our suppliers now charge a gas surcharge. Over the long term, if these higher gas prices continue, both businesses and customers will end up paying the price,” Emmerson said.

Susan Andresen, owner of Pet Tyme Animal Krackers in Minden, said that the largest impact of high gas prices for their store is a surcharge on shipping rates of goods to the “North.”
“Sometimes companies are not shipping at the usual interval/schedule in order to cut costs, which affects our stock quantities,” she said.
Some businesses with a smaller amount of stock are not being impacted as severely.
Brian Wheeler, manager at Russell Red Records in Haliburton, said that most of their shipments are delivered by the same delivery truck as other businesses in the downtown Haliburton area, so shipping costs for them have only increased slightly so far.
With the price of fuel not expected to fall anytime soon, customers can take steps to help support local businesses who are being negatively impacted by enormous fuel and shipping costs.
McAllister said, “The best tip for visitors at Abbey Gardens would be to take advantage of all the different amenities we have here and make a day of it. The more activities you can combine in one place, the better, especially with gas prices like this.”

Andresen agreed that planning a trip to accomplish multiple shopping errands on the same day can help customers cut down on spending more than needed on fuel.
She said that instead of ordering from large retailers online, customers can “call local businesses ahead of time if you know you will need a certain product, and most can order it in for you and have it ready for your next trip to town.”
Glecoff said that despite challenging times over the past couple of years, the community has come together to support local businesses, and he is confident that this support will continue.
“During the past two years, our community has supported Haliburton Village beyond our expectations, and I would assume they will continue to do so now. Amy and I have been extremely fortunate to have remained open during these trying times and are blessed to have the support of our community,” Glecoff said.

The average price of gas in Ontario fell from 210.6 cents per litre last week to 201.2 cents per litre on Monday, June 20.