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Hope’s most vulnerable impacted by rising gas prices

For people already struggling to make ends meet, pain at the pump is not welcome

Though the war between Russia and Ukraine is taking place a world away, ripples from the conflict are being felt in Hope.

The impacts of that European conflict are most acutely being felt among the vulnerable population.

On Monday, gas prices around town sat at $1.95 a litre, well above normal.

“Lots of families go to places like Chilliwack and Abbotsford where they can get things cheaper, like Walmart for example,” said Michele Thornhill, executive director of Hope Community Services. “I think this really impacts their ability to do that, and they’re weighing whether it makes sense to spend the gas money.”

Thornhill said anything that forces someone into a tough decision about what essential thing to pay for is bad, and skyrocketing gas prices may cause that.

“Paying more for gas might mean they go without certain foods because they’re cutting back on their food bill,” she said. “In a smaller town you have less choices overall, and now with things exploding in cost — even for myself, I’m shocked sometimes when I go to the grocery store. I have good resources and I would say I have an adequate amount of income, and I can’t imagine what it’s like for families or individuals who are already struggling.”

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Thornhill is even more worried about the ability to access specialized services.

She said many families she knows will make a day of going to Chilliwack, Abbotsford or further west as they combine cheaper shopping with a medical or specialist appointment.

“Just about all of those specialized medical appointments will be out of town,” Thornhill said. “Just even having a family doctor is challenging in Hope. For families who have unique needs, the added cost of fuel adds more stress to families who are probably already under a lot of stress. It makes it even more challenging.”

For Hope Community Services, there’s only so much that can be done to help.

The Food Resource Centre continues to offer its services, but even those have been impacted by the gas price hike.

“It hits us directly, because we go to Chilliwack to get a lot of our food, whether it’s purchasing produce or collecting donated food from the regional food hub,” Thornhill said.

“With our van that we use, it’s putting an extra strain on the funds that we have. Instead of money going towards food, we’re now spending more on gasoline costs, and even more because it’s a larger, refrigerated vehicle.”

The bottom line is that everyone is holding on for dear life, hoping calmer heads prevail in Europe.

“Every month we have new people signing up at the Food Resource Centre, seniors in particular who are on a fixed income,” Thornhill noted. “They’ll tell us they never thought they’d have to use a food bank or get a hamper, but they can’t make their money stretch any more.”


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Eric Welsh

About the Author: Eric Welsh

I joined the Chilliwack Progress in 2007, originally hired as a sports reporter.
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