LANGLEY, B.C. – With government and company regulations stipulating how many hours a truck driver can be behind the wheel before they need to rest, and increasing transportation activity in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, it seems essential that drivers have a sufficient number of options when it comes to where they can safely park their truck when they come off the road.
Truck parking in the Lower Mainland has been an ongoing topic of discussion for the B.C. Trucking Association (BCTA), a point not lost on its president and CEO, Louise Yako.
“Over the years, municipalities in the Lower Mainland have been making changes to zoning that made offering truck parking as a private service really not very attractive,” said Yako, adding that Langley and Abbotsford, which have a number of owner/operators living in the area, have recently recognized a need for truck parking and have approved truck parking businesses for development in each municipality.
Yako also highlighted that in July 2015, the province’s Ministry of Transportation announced it would put in a truck parking station in the Surrey area near Delta, which would end up being the furthest west truck parking site available to the public run on a cost-recovery basis.
“The problem is, the further west you go, the less likely that there’s going to be a private truck parking facility,” she explained, adding that up until the recent opening of the Chevron Canada cardlock station in Delta, the furthest western station had been at 200 Street in Langley, and with a lot of trucks coming into the region that were not based in the area, that was a problem.
Yako said an area in Surrey on 16th Ave. where the city is in the process of issuing a truck parking development permit has been met with resistance from some local residents who live in the area, which falls on a local truck route and would presumably make for an ideal spot to have a designated parking area for truckers.
As recently reported in the Vancouver Sun, GG Metro Holdings would develop the 32-hectare piece of land into a truck parking lot, which sits on more than 240 hectares of land that remains in the city’s planning process.
The Sun indicated that a local group called Friends of Hazelmere Campbell Valley said the proposed development could harm a nearby salmon and trout spawning area, bring adverse effects to groundwater and that the area was home to 22 species of endangered wildlife. But councillor Tom Gill said that Surrey had been looking for a long-term truck parking solution for years, as around 1,300 of the registered 8,300 trucks in the city regularly park illegally.
Municipalities are responsible for establishing proper zoning to enable for the development of a truck parking area, but Yako said it can be challenging, as there is a much better return from tax dollars to have the land developed for higher tax rate purposes, such as business or high-density residential.
The BCTA is also champing at the bit to continue providing feedback into the province’s 10-year transportation plan, called ‘On the Move,’ which Yako said will take aim at truck parking issues.
“It’s a very ambitious plan. It’s got a whole series of components, including the improvement of rest areas for truck drivers, improvements to capacity for infrastructure (and) improvements to winter maintenance standards for highways,” said Yako, adding that the BCTA also hopes for a reduction in terms of permits by way of putting those permit requirements into legislation and the continuation of changes to the national safety code’s implementation in B.C.
“All of those things are fairly big items that are going to require a lot of our time and resources in order to be able to provide feedback to the government to get this done in a timely fashion and to get it done well,” Yako said.
The BCTA met with the provincial Ministry of Transportation on Oct. 30, 2014 to discuss the ‘On the Move’ plan. Key themes that came out of that consultation are indicated in the government’s transportation plan document, which can be found online at www.
engage.gov.bc.ca/transportationplan, and include the importance of reliable highways, airports and border crossings, improvements to main trucking routes to decrease delays and the significance of growing the economy.
The BCTA’s concern over what they say is a lack of truck parking areas in the Lower Mainland goes far beyond the obvious – providing an ideal location for drivers to get rest so they can do their jobs properly and safely.
“Being a truck driver is a very stressful occupation, and we are trying to do what we can to improve the work environment for truck drivers,” said Yako. “If we want to attract them to this occupation, they shouldn’t have to worry about where they’re going to park their truck and be able to rest at night. This is just one small thing that would improve the situation for some drivers.