Spiking gas prices take toll on Calgary charities

Some Calgary non-profit organizations say the price at the pump is taking a bite out of their bottom line. 

Gas prices in the city are about 30 cents a litre higher than they were in May of 2017 and that’s squeezing charities that rely on donations and fixed grants.

“It’s very tough,” said Sundae Nordin, CEO of the Community Kitchen Program of Calgary. “This is something that keeps us … up at night.”

Volunteers sort donated food at the Community Kitchen Program of Calgary warehouse. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

Last year, the group distributed nearly 1.3 million pounds of food to more than 190,000 people.

Community Kitchen makes that happen with a fleet of five trucks and vans, two or three of which are on the roads in and around Calgary every day.

Nordin is watching gas prices spike at the same time that donations are down and demand for food is up.

 “[We’re] pulling back in areas where we can and tightening up where we can,” she said.

Disability agency impacted by pump price

Vecova, a disability services agency, is struggling as well.

“When our costs go up, it just means a reduction in the amount of money that can come back to support the programs that we offer,” said Ann-Marie Latoski, CEO of Vecova Centre for Disability Services and Research.

The impact is mostly felt in the organization’s bottle donation pickup service — which serves more than 100 organizations and 5,000 homes in Calgary’s northwest. The recycling program provides employment for disabled Calgarians, and the revenue is used for Vecova’s programs, including housing and recreational supports. 

Matthew Nomura, director of employment and social enterprise with Vecova, estimates gas will cost the organization about 20 per cent more for 2018 than expected. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

“I can’t remember the last time we’ve seen prices like this” said Matthew Nomura, Vecova’s director of employment and social enterprise. 

“It impacts us tremendously.”

Nomura estimates fuelling up Vecova’s fleet of five trucks will cost up to 20 per cent more than they anticipated for 2018.

As gas prices climb, donations of recyclable beverage containers are dropping.

“So it hits us two-fold,” said Nomura.

Price hike felt in many non-profit sectors

Fuel prices are also taking a toll on the Women in Need Society (WINS) , which has a fleet of four trucks that pick up donations and deliver free products to low-income women around the city.

Patti Brewin, fund development manager, says the organization uses roughly 38,000 litres of fuel a year.

“So any increase in that cost you know is going to impact our bottom line,” she said.

“A 10 per cent increase or [so] has a huge increase on what we can afford to do and what programs we can keep running in the community.”

High prices aren’t going anywhere

There may be little relief in sight.

According to Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com, the price at the pump will likely remain high for a while.

“I think this is going to have an impact on everybody. But especially those not-for-profit agencies who do good in our communities,” said McTeague.

“You can see a scenario developing where the cost is anywhere from 15 to 20 dollars more a fill-up compared to 2017.”

McTeague says prices will hover between $1.20 and $1.37 a litre until September or October.

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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.


Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

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