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Northerners won’t all pay more carbon tax

Despite the complaints of northern mayors, data suggest that northern British Columbians won’t necessarily pay more in carbon tax than people in the rest of the province.

When the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual convention opens today, northern mayors will be demanding that the provincial government ease the impact of the tax on their constituents.

Northerners have to use more fuel to get around and to heat their homes in the cold up-country climate, the mayors argue.

But the numbers tell a different story.

Last spring, The Tyee reported on how northerners actually commute far less than people in the Lower Mainland.

As it turns out, the average natural gas consumer in Tumbler Ridge uses substantially less fuel than the average customer in the Lower Mainland. (According to B.C. Hydro, about 60 per cent of all individuals in both regions heat with natural gas. Most of the rest use either electricity or wood.)

Here are the average annual use figures, from Terasen Gas and Pacific Northern Gas:

PNG-West (Vanderhoof to Prince Rupert/Kitimat) – 75 gigajoules per year

Tumbler Ridge – 79 GJ/year

Fort Nelson – 96 GJ/year

Fort St. John – 119 GJ/year

Lower Mainland/Squamish – 120 GJ/year

Dawson Creek – 121 GJ/year

Why the difference? Utilities officials say northern homes are smaller and better insulated than those in the Lower Mainland.

Tom Barrett is a contributing editor at The Tyee.

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