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New Avalon Mall parking garage opens today in St. John's

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The first major piece of work involved in the Avalon Mall’s $55 million redevelopment plan opens to the public today.

Vehicles will be permitted access to a new four-storey parking garage on O’Leary Avenue at 9 a.m. this morning, just in time for the start of the shopping centre’s annual 20 Per Cent Event.

“That’s 650+ new covered stalls with a modern accessible mall link so you can avoid the weather,” the mall Tweeted from its official account. 

In addition to the indoor spaces, a parking lot adjacent to the structure offers shoppers another 200-plus spaces.

Work is still very much underway in several other areas of the mall property, including the realignment of the Kenmount Road and Polina Road intersection. Part of that job involved the city upgrading a sewer system that runs beneath the mall parking lot.

Other jobs still underway are the redevelopment of the Sears space, Cineplex’s Rec Room, and interior renovations.

Down the road, there are plans for a 105,000 square-foot extension of the mall onto the parking lot near the Winners entrance, an extended strip mall, and two new buildings on the lot. One of those standalone structures will be occupied by Fog City, which is leaving the mall after 20 years.


Related stories 

St. John’s approves plan for major redevelopment at mall and Polina Road

Avalon Mall in early stages of multimillion-dollar, multi-year redevelopment

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City to provide update on LRT launch

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We're expecting to get another update on the launch of Light Rail Transit in the capital on Wednesday morning. 

The $2.1 billion project was expected to be up and running by November 2 but in early September the city learned the Rideau Transit Group would not be making the handover date. 

This put the city in a position to deduct $1 million from the next payment to the RTG, which will come once they achieve substantial completion. 

In September, the city said they were hoping to see LRT up and running by the end of Q1, or by the end of March. 

An update from the city manager in October, revealed there was still significant construction work required at Rideau Station. 

They were also keeping a close eye on Parliament Station, other west end stations and the ability to have multiple trains running along the line at the same time. 

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Gas prices could drop as low as 99 cents a litre on Thursday, expert says

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Attention Ontario drivers: don't gas up on Wednesday, wait until Thursday, when gas prices are forecast to fall.

That's the word from Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, a website that monitors gas prices throughout North America. McTeague says average gas prices on Thursday in the province could be the lowest since Oct. 5, 2017.

And some gas retailers could drop the price even lower, charging as low as 99 cents a litre, he predicted.

"Gas prices will be falling, anywhere you are, net four cents a litre. Not just the GTA, but pretty much all of Ontario," McTeague said on Wednesday.

The average price of a litre of gas in the GTA, currently $1.159, is expected to fall at midnight by four cents to $1.119 a litre.

Dan McTeague, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, said: 'the best advice would be, not to fill up today, but wait until tomorrow. You will save an average of a 4 cents a litre.' (CBC)

"We are going to see, as a result of yesterday's deep losses on energy markets, a net four cent decrease for motorists who will be filling up," he said.

"The best advice would be, not to fill up today, but wait until tomorrow. You will save an average of a 4 cents a litre. And of course, that could mean at many stations in the Toronto area, prices will be at or perhaps even below a dollar a litre."

McTeague, based in Toronto, said many gas retailers will charge below $1 a litre because they will shed their "operating margins," which could be 10 or 11 cents a litre, as part of "deep discounting."

He said motorists haven't seen the "magical number" of 99 cents in over a year.

Low prices expected to stay for next several days

McTeague said the markets are rattled because the price crude oil has dropped more than $20 a barrel in a month.

He said it's hard to say how long gas prices will stay this low.

"For now, it looks like this might be as good as it gets for the next several days."

McTeague said the drop is unexpected and it is in response to the rapid drop in the price crude oil. On Tuesday, crude oil dropped nearly eight per cent in value, he said.

"Consumers are now benefiting from that decrease."

For average drivers who use 60 litres a week, the decrease represents a savings of up to $15 a week, he added.

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Canadian oil producers hurt by double whammy

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Canada’s oil producers can’t catch a break.

Even as local production cuts help alleviate pipeline bottlenecks, heavy crude plunged below $18 a barrel for the first time since 2016 – dragged down by global oil prices.

“The differentials are holding to modestly improving but the global prices are sliding,” said Kevin Birn, a director on the North American crude oil markets team at IHS Markit. “We called it a double whammy.”

Oil sands producers including Canadian Natural Resource, Devon Energy, Cenovus Energy and Athabasca Oil have announced curtailments that may total 140,000 barrels a day or more, after a localised glut sent heavy Western Canadian Select (WCS) crude plunging to a $50 discount to West Texas Intermediate futures, the widest in Bloomberg data going back a decade.

Since then, WCS’s discount has narrowed to about $42 a barrel, but the absolute price has plunged along with world crude benchmarks amid concerns of oversupply. The US has granted eight nations waivers to continue buying Iranian oil, while Opec and Russia have boosted production. WTI futures dropped for a tenth straight day on Friday, falling briefly below $60 a barrel.

“Lower global oil demand growth estimates and soaring US production have all fed into this bearish crude picture,” Joan Pinto, an energy specialist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, said in a note. “The WCS differential has actually held in remarkably well, all things considered.”

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Adding to the Canadian oil woes, two pipeline projects that would eventually help producers get their crude to markets are facing court delays. At the weekend, a US court ruled that an environmental assessment of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline was inadequate, a decision that could delay the $8 billion project by eight months. Earlier this year, a Canadian court ruled that the planned expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline to the Pacific would need to undergo further regulatory reviews.

Canada’s crude export pipelines are rationing space after a surge of new production from the oil sands came online late last year and early this year. Recent refinery maintenance in the US Midwest has also reduced demand for Canada’s oil. Currently, just one export pipeline project, Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion, is under construction and scheduled to begin operating by the second half of next year.

Oil companies may be curtailing production now in anticipation that they will get better prices later when access to rail cars or pipelines improves, Mr Birn said.

“There is a financial upside to their strategy,” he said.

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