More than 50 ships were waiting on Monday to unload at the beleaguered Port of Vancouver, still dealing with the impacts of a major storm two weeks ago and ongoing rain that continues to set back reconstruction efforts in the province of British Columbia. A provincial state of emergency has now been extended to December 14.
Rail and road links from the port to the rest of the country remain an issue, meaning that containers are backing up at the port’s terminals. To help tackle that challenge, the federal government is providing more than C$4m to prepare an undeveloped 40-acre industrial site to temporarily store empty containers.
The federal and provincial governments have established a joint supply chain recovery working group to help prioritize efforts to support supply chain operations, and launched a survey to gather stakeholder input to that process. The governments have asked shippers to exercise restraint in seeking to send non-essential goods into or through B.C.’s Lower Mainland.
Canadian National Railway, one of Canada’s two major rail lines, shut down its service in the region on Monday.
“After moving seven trains during the weekend, CN took the decision to proactively close its network as the large amounts of precipitation into British Columbia were causing increased debris, washout and landslide activity,” the company said. The Port of Vancouver noted in an update that “a timeline for restored rail operations through the site is currently unavailable.” In the meantime, CN is sharing the Vancouver-Kamloops line of its competitor, Canadian Pacific Railway.
CN has diverted some rail traffic to the Port of Prince Rupert, further to the north along the Pacific coast. Prince Rupert has not been affected by the recent weather events.
Drivers at two Port of Vancouver trucking companies issued a strike notice this week. However, one of the companies, Aheer Transportation, has now reached a tentative agreement with the drivers. Approximately 120 drivers at Prudential Transportation will begin a strike on Friday if the company does not settle their dispute before then.