The announcement of a provincial order rationing gasoline sent many drivers rushing out to the pumps in B.C.'s Lower Mainland Friday – resulting in some stations selling out of fuel.
Under the order, motorists in southwestern B.C. are only allowed to fill up 30 litres of gasoline per stop, a measure intended to ensure that commercial and emergency vehicles can continue operating amid storm-related supply problems.
Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth said the rationing rule is scheduled to remain in place until Dec. 1, and asked drivers to remain calm and patient until that time.
"It's 10 to 11 days where we have to pull together as a province, particularly here in the Lower Mainland," Farnworth said Friday. "If we do that, we succeed. If we're greedy, we'll fail."
Following the announcement, there were long lineups at gas stations across the region as motorists tried to ensure they would have sufficient fuel for the coming days. That resulted in some stations running out before the weekend.
"It does actually make me worried because I commute back and forth between Port Moody and Maple Ridge," one driver told CTV News.
Images have also surfaced of some gas stations appearing to sell fuel for more than 197 cents a litre in parts of Metro Vancouver, though they have yet to be verified.
Port Moody resident Allie Chapman was working overnight in Vancouver and told CTV News she saw one station on Main Street selling for 197.6 cents a litre at around 12:45 a.m., but didn't stop to fill up.
"Absolutely not, I drove down the block and got it for $1.60," Chapman said.
B.C.'s rationing order prohibits profit-margin price gouging among gas stations, and bars the public from purchasing fuel for re-sale.
It also includes fines for anyone caught being abusive, threatening or belligerent to gas station employees.
Gasoline supply has been limited since the intense storm struck last Sunday, forcing a shutdown of the Trans Mountain pipeline and blocking access to every major highway connecting Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley to the rest of the province.
Cenovus Energy, which owns Husky, admitted the combination of road closures, increased travel time and panic buying is "making it difficult to keep sufficient product" at its sites.
“Our logistics team is working hard to try to ensure adequate supplies,” the company wrote in an email.
Officials have stressed that B.C. is working on "new ways" to get gasoline into the province, including by truck and barge from as far away as California.
Despite that, Farnworth urged motorists to use public transportation as much as possible until supply problems are resolved.
"If you can avoid travel, work from home or take public transit for the next 10 days, you will help ensure that we have the fuel and access and means to keep responding as we need to," he said Saturday following the rush on fuel.
"We know that we have enough gas for essential vehicles and everyone else who needs it if we are prudent and conserve where we can."
Drivers of essential and emergency vehicles – which includes everything from fire trucks to grocery delivery vans – are exempt from the rationing order, which also applies to Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, the Sea to Sky corridor and the Sunshine Coast.
Officials said emergency and essential vehicles will continue to have "unrestricted access" to fuel, mostly using commercial cardlock stations.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Ben Miljure and St. John Alexander