Solutions to truck-parking problem are moving too slowly, B.C. association says

Commercial truck parking has been a problem in Surrey for decades and it is only getting worse as the population there grows. In March, the city promised to address the issue by creating 150 parking spots for on four city owned sites. Last night council began talking about a contract for the first site. But Surrey based truckers say the city's plan is slow and that it's temporary and that it is too small scale. Well, Amit Kumar is the president of the Canadian Trucking Association of BC and and it's been good enough to join us this morning. Good morning to you. Good morning to you. Thank you for being with us. First off, just just describe for us what the parking situation is like for truck drivers in, in Surrey, because anybody who's been on Hwy. 91 has probably seen, you know, miles and miles of trucks parked at the side of the highway. Well, that's a reality which hasn't, you know, gone unnoticed. And it's not just Siri. I think it's, it'll be wrong to just pick up Siri. It's the whole lower Mainland. So we have South of the Fraser where all the trucking industry has been pushed out. It is a challenge and it goes unnoticed and under unaddressed for like 20 years now. And So what, what are the options then the drivers have? I mean, when it comes to parking a truck, where are drivers allowed to put them? Right now, the zoning laws in BC allow trucks to be put on sites or zone, you know, land zoned as industrial or industrial use, like industrial use. So those are the two zonings where trucks, commercial trucks are allowed to park. But, you know, there is a lot, there's a lot large shortage of such places and they are like prohibitively expensive now. So that's the reason you see trucks lined up wherever they can find space on the sides of the roads, exit ramps, scales, you know, in the commercial district, farmland, you name it, you'll find a truck there. And so, and how much are are truckers paying to, you know, keep their trucks in a, in a place that is safe and legal? The truck parking rates have gone anywhere from 500 to $900. And in some places I've heard people paying you $1000 for a secure parking lot for one truck and trailer parked for a month, for a month. Yes, that's unbelievable. Now. Now, what impact does this have on drivers? I mean, are drivers having to park their rigs, you know, miles away from where they live? That is true. We are all struggling in that situation because when truckers come home, and we're talking specifically about long haul truckers, local truckers also have a problem because they have to park or find a parking space which is away from their home. So the commute every morning to the truck parking spots to go start work and then again, you know, in the evening, you know, when they're coming back home. So commuting is a big problem for everybody living in Vancouver, but for truckers especially acute because they have to, if they're working on 10 hour shift, they might have to drive like an hour to get to the truck and then come back to the same spot. So if someone is working in Vancouver, he could be driving 40 minutes to Surrey to pick up his rig and then come back 40 minutes to Vancouver to start his work. Yeah, So that's double commute. Well, exactly. You held a rally earlier this month calling for, you know, better solutions. And what we've seen now and you said then the trucking companies are feeling like they're being driven out of the Lower Mainland. Is this issue serious enough to actually have those trucking companies going elsewhere? I know many people and in our association itself who have set up, you know, companies or their depots in Alberta, some in Washington, me, myself, we have a place down in California. So it is a problem where we don't feel as welcome or as accommodated in BC as opposed to other places. And, and what is the impact on us here in the Lower Mainland if more of those trucks leave to base themselves out of Alberta or Washington state? The first thing that the local economy will feel is the loss of jobs because it's trucking. I can tell you long haul truckers on an average earn anywhere from like 70 to $80,000 a year. So that's a well paying job. So we're losing good paying jobs to other provinces. They're moving out of the province Also in a situation like the 2021 floods that happened, natural river event. So the truckers who live in BC were the ones who brought everything that BC needed during COVID shutdown. So if you don't have a healthy local trucking businesses, you will. The local economy will suffer because people prefer to work where they live. So why would they come to BC in a situation where they need to serve the local communities, right? Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke is calling the plan that they've put forward a a major step toward a solution to the problem. How do you see it? I think it's, I'll still see it as a small step because in Syria alone, we need like over 2000 parking spots. And the other thing you know, which we have to keep in mind is the proposals that have been put forward. They're like temporary use permits, TU PS:. As as they call them, they're issued for three-year term and they can only be renewed once. So it's only for six years. So so far we have seen about 200 parking spots come up in Surrey. But keep in mind these are temporary, but trucking needs are permanent. So a temporary solution to a permanent need doesn't cut it, but is a temporary solution, at least a beginning until a permanent solution can be, you know, sought and and implemented, which I agree. And for that reason, we do appreciate the efforts of the Surrey Council and the Mayor in particular. But you know, in our meeting with all the other municipalities, everybody points the fingers at the provincial government and they are missing from the table. Now the plan, I mean, it sounds not nearly like what you need. I mean, it's 150 parking spots over four sites. How many parking spots did you say are needed in Surrey alone? About 2000 parking spots. And so how do you decide who gets the, the that limited number of parking spots? That is the reason you see the trucks lined up on along the highway because there is no clear cut policy and the needs are not just of the long haul trucking, but also the local trucking. So we have a vast, you know, I'm in the trucking industry here, but it's difficult to say who gets what and whose choices would, you know, get the priority. I mean, are there any other municipalities in Metro Vancouver that are doing a, a better job of this than Surrey? I would say everybody's failing in that. So nobody really is doing, you know, better. Surrey has at least started something to there, you know, take take in the initiative. Abbotsford is doing a study, but the other municipalities are not even talking about this. Well, and because is it because you're talking about a substantial amount of land here. I mean, a lot of the other municipalities are much more densely populated than Surrey is. Surrey seems to have the the space for something like this. Well, Surrey is actually, you know, I mean, also home to a lot of truckers. Surrey, Abbotsford, Langley, Delta. So these are South of the Fraser. These are the, you know, municipalities where a lot of truckers live and work. So at least you know, I would, you know, credit, sorry, console that they're actually looking at this issue. But Township of Langley gets a failing grade. They're not looking into it. Delta hasn't talked about it. So there is there is a lot that needs to be done. But they all say that we are locked in agricultural land. We have a shortage of space, industrial space. So there's not really much we can do until the province comes to the table. Amit, it's really good to hear you this morning. Thanks for the time. We appreciate you bringing us up to speed on this. Thank you, Steve, take care. Bye, bye. Thank you, Bye. Bye. That's Amit Kumar, who is the president of the Canadian Trucking Association of BC.

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