Flin Flon and District Chamber of Commerce talks pump prices, online speeds

Gas high, net slow?

Gas prices and Internet speeds were the main concerns on the agenda at Tuesday’s Flin Flon and District Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Chamber first vice-president Karen MacKinnon brought both issues to the table during the lunch meeting at the Flin Flon Aboriginal Friendship Centre restaurant.

The noticeable difference in the price of gas between Flin Flon and The Pas has some area residents concerned and searching for answers.

“Why are our gas prices different from The Pas?” MacKinnon asked.

She said lower prices at the pump of late “have been fantastic, but it’s such a gap from here to The Pas.”

Director Dave Kendall, sitting as president in Tom Therien’s absence, said he has come across that issue countless times, but the answer doesn’t seem to be enough to satisfy people.

“It’s all competition,” Kendall said, pointing out the numerous gas stations in The Pas.

Locally, Kendall told the 10 guests in attendance, the price of gas is decided from outside of the community.

“So I disagree that this is a chamber concern,” said Kendall. “I understand the concept [of how gas prices are set]. I don’t like it, but I understand it.”

President-elect Dianne Russell suggested having a guest speaker address the matter at a future meeting.

Member Deb Odegaard wondered where that speaker would come from.

“How do you pick?” she asked, referring to local gas stations.

Kendall said the issue of price differences at the pump is a nationwide question.

“It’s the same thing in Edmonton and Vancouver,” he said, mentioning two cities with vastly different gas prices.

According to GasBuddy.com, Flin Flon gas prices were in the range of 96.9 to 98.9 cents a litre this week, compared to 86.9 to 89.9 cents in The Pas.

Internet concerns

MacKinnon also brought up concerns, both personal and from others in the community, about local Internet services.

She said she was unsuccessful when she recently contacted her Internet provider in hopes of receiving improved speed and coverage.

“I think chamber should lobby to get [fibre optic Internet] sooner than later,” she said.

Fifteen communities in Manitoba have fibre-optic service through MTS, including Thompson and The Pas, which received the service in 2012.

“So we’re the biggest community in northern Manitoba without it?” asked Lawrence Gillespie, another director.

Past-president Kory Eastman and third vice-president Mary Dwernichuk both agreed at the same time “there is a great need for it.”

From a business standpoint, Russell agreed the service needs to be stronger and a fibre optic option would be beneficial to many in the community.

Eastman and Russell agreed to contact a guest speaker for a future meeting to discuss the likelihood of fibre optic Internet in the Flin Flon area.

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Chamber briefs

Other highlights from Tuesday’s Flin Flon and District Chamber of Commerce meeting:

• MacKinnon announced the City of Flin Flon has agreed to pay one-third of the cost of the flowers on Main Street, up to $2,000, for this coming year.

• The sign for the now-defunct Northern Pregnancy Care Centre has been removed from the door at 35 Main Street. It will be replaced with chamber signage.

• Discussion of the chamber’s annual auction had members looking toward a spring auction rather than the usual fall date due to businesses supporting sports and other donation requests at that time.

• Gillespie reported that the Flin Flon Neighbourhood Revitalization Corp. was interested in taking care of the flowers, though the final decision will be based on approval of a summer student.

• Members voted to renew the chamber’s membership with the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce for $326.

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