Ottawa's Merry Dairy truck hit by high gas prices
Marlene Haley serves ice cream the old-fashioned way, out of an ice-cream truck. She’s into the second season of operating The Merry Dairy in Ottawa. But ice cream trucks are not the most fuel efficient of vehicles. And gas prices these days are anything but old-fashioned. "The old fashioned ice cream truck, you can go up and down streets and you're meandering and you're bringing customers out of their home,” she says. “And I won't want to be idling and doing that as much if my gas prices are as high. I'll want to go to one area and stay."
Rising prices this summer are affecting her business in other ways. She’s had to add a mileage charge when driving to private functions. According to Dan McTeague of Tomorrow's Gas Prices Today , even higher gas prices are on the way. “Our record, the nadir of prices, took place back in August of 2012 when we hit all-time highs of $1.42, $1.43. We may not touch that but we'll come awfully close," says McTeague.
If soaring gas prices can impact one ice cream truck, imagine an entire city.
Last year, despite their best guess, Ottawa Police Services underestimated the cost of gas to the tune of 150-thousand dollars. So this year they planned for a $1.28 a litre. It turns out it isn’t enough. They’re now projecting a 50-thousand dollar deficit. "It's like a moving target in front of us," says Police Services Board Chair, Eli El-Chantiry.
El-Chantiry also points out the city owns well over thirty-three hundred vehicles. And that’s not even counting buses. And they have to cover an area larger than Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto combined. "So any increase within 10-cents or 15-cents on a litre of gas, that's a huge increase or pressure on our budget," he warns. If gas prices don't come down El-Chantiry says other expenses will have to be reduced. And there's not a lot of wiggle room. He says eighty-five percent of the police budget is salaries.
The only other option is to ask the public for more money to cover the cost of gas. And, as Marlene Haley points out, that’s never a popular option. "People can only afford to pay so much for a cone."