You likely have not given much thought to how the items you buy arrived at the store. Almost 90% of all consumer goods (by weight) in Canada are moved, for at least a portion of their journey, by truck. On Vancouver Island that number is much closer to 100% as we rely, almost exclusively, on trucks to deliver our food, fuel, and other consumer goods. The trucking industry has grown by more than 30% in the last 10 years. According to ICBC insurance data, approximately 1000 new heavy duty commercial trucks are added to BC’s roads each year.
There are two issues that are going to materially change the way goods are transported in this country. First, by 2020, trucks and buses will be required to be fitted with Electronic Logging Devices. This is an important safety initiative and it will have significant impact on communities which will need to be prepared to host trucks and drivers with appropriate space and amenities when they park for their mandated rest periods. Companies are in desperate need of employees. Currently 93% of their drivers are men. Women are interested in the relatively high-paying driving jobs but the lack of safe rest spaces with facilities is a true barrier to employment in trucking for most women.
The second issue is an increasing awareness by the trucking industry that they need to become more green. Approximately 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions are produced by motor carriers. Tesla is producing an electric semi truck but the maximum distance it can travel is 800 km before charging and that distance can only be attained on flat terrain with limited load weight. Nikola plans to have its hydrogen trucks in production by 2020. Likely, the trucks of the future will be hydrogen/electric hybrids which will necessitate installation of fueling and charging stations.
For the more than 30 years our Information Centre has been in operation on the Pat Bay Highway, the site has acted as a de facto truck stop. Drivers stop here to transfer loads, take bathroom and smoke breaks, to teach new drivers, and to rest overnight. We don’t encourage all of these activities because their trucks take a toll on our curbs and pavement and the drivers are not always responsible users of the garbage cans and washrooms. Accommodating trucks and drivers is a strain on our Chamber’s limited financial resources. Our signs indicate we don’t allow overnight parking and occasionally the RCMP tell drivers they have to leave, but because they have nowhere else to go, there are several trucks parked here every night. Given our economic reliance on trucks and the goods they deliver, it is in our best interest to be more welcoming by providing safe, rest places with appropriate amenities.
For many years we have considered how we could make better use of our site on the highway and potentially make use of the property behind us to accommodate trucks. We will continue consultations with the BC Trucking Association and initiate discussions with BC Ferries, Ministry of Transportation and our own MLA, Adam Olsen in our efforts to provide support for the trucking industry. Our economic well-being depends on it.