Starting on Canada Day, British Columbians will likely be paying the highest gas prices in the country, as the province's new carbon tax will add about 2.5 cents to a litre of fuel.

Gas is expected to cost over $1.50 a litre.

But Premier Gordon Campbell promises that British Columbians will have more money in their pockets at the end of the year because of income tax cuts.

"Every citizen in British Columbia will have more money in their pockets at the end of this year regardless of where they live," Campbell told CTV Newsnet Monday in response to criticism that his carbon tax plan will cost those living in the suburbs and the north.

The carbon tax starts at a rate based on $10 per tonne of carbon emissions and rises $5 a year to $30 per tonne by 2012. That works out to an extra 2.4 cents a litre on gas, rising to 7.24 cents per litre by 2012.

Campbell said that his plan will be revenue neutral. But just like federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, he is finding that many citizens are wary of that pledge.

Many motorists lined up at gas stations in advance of the expected bump in fuel prices.

"The government should look at themselves first before they look at tackling little guys like me," Trish O'Brien told The Canadian press as she filled up her fuel efficient Suzuki Aerio. "I do what I can. I recycle everything that's not nailed down. I drive a small car and take the bus when I can, and I walk."

Maureen Bader of the Canadian Taxpayers Association told CTV Newsnet that she didn't think the carbon tax would be revenue neutral.

"This tax is going to hit families particular hard here in the Lower Mainland and in the north," she said.

"The government needs to give families a break at the pump. It's inconceivable that a government would increase the price of gas when gas is already at record highs," Bader added.

Campbell said that by 2011, B.C. "will have the lowest taxes for companies for any jurisdiction in the G8."

He said that would make the province more productive and competitive.

But Campbell said that the carbon plan was about reducing harm to the environment.

"Climate change has happened and it's going to require all of us to think about what we can do to meet the challenges that we face," he said.

Last week B.C. homes began receiving a $100 Climate Action Dividend, a one-time cheque for every resident of the province aimed at starting environmental change at home.

With files from The Canadian Press