ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — In the wake of an online petition calling for increased enforcement of illegal truck parking in Abbotsford, B.C., police say efforts have been made to mitigate the issue, but underlying causes remain.
The petition was created by local resident Jennifer Rowse, who specifically targets drivers who choose to park along Clearbrook Road next to a Tim Hortons. In the petition, Rowse says, “I drive to and from that area four times a day with my kids in the car and I can’t tell you how many close calls and accidents that I see there due to the semi-trucks parking in the middle of the road to go to Tim Hortons. It is completely unsafe and horrible that they value their coffee more than other drivers’ lives.”
As of March 2, 173 people had signed the petition, which urges Abbotsford police to crack down on trucks parking in the area.
Richard Beaulieu is a light-duty truck driver in the area and says he has seen firsthand the issues tractor-trailers cause when parked on Clearbrook Road.
“Many times I have seen large commercial vehicles straddling the center median on Clearbrook Road near the freeway on-off ramps,” said Beaulieu. “Common sense dictates that this is an obstruction of safety for all traffic going to and from.”
But Beaulieu also understands why drivers make the choice to park on the road illegally.
“They drink coffee and eat food just like all the rest of us,” he said. “Unfortunately, the companies that strategically position themselves to generate profits discriminate against larger vehicles entering their lots. They cannot just pull in like the rest of us. So what are they to do?”
Sgt. Judy Bird of the Abbotsford Police Department believes the answer to that question is simple – plan ahead.
Bird said they have been addressing illegal truck parking on Clearbrook Road – and on Sumas Way, where drivers have also been known to park illegally for similar reasons – through a three-tiered approach: education, signage, and enforcement.
“It’s not to put a hammer down on the truckers,” Bird said, recommending that drivers need to plan accordingly based on where they can legally pull over and park.
Bird agreed with Beaulieu that the location where the Tim Hortons is situated has become an increasingly busy area of the city, and there is no way a truck would be able to get in and out of the parking lot with its small size.
Three to four years ago, trucks were able to find parking spaces in vacant lots around the area, but since development has taken over that space, drivers have been left with no safe, legal space to pull over along that section of Clearbrook Road.
Though she feels for their situation, Bird said drivers must recognize the fact that illegally parking on Clearbrook Road causes safety issues for other drivers and results in increased traffic congestion on an already busy section of road.
Bird said there is “plenty of truck parking” in Abbotsford, and drivers must plan to pull over at those appropriate locations.
Dave Earle, president of the British Columbia Trucking Association (BCTA), said there are not enough places for commercial drivers to pull over in Abbotsford, Metro Vancouver, along B.C. highways, and other communities in the province.
“Addressing the lack of safety rest areas is a top priority for our members,” said Earle, adding that the BCTA assisted with a truck parking survey for the Lower Mainland in 2015 and the province in 2016, which has resulted in some improvement. “We continue to work with local and provincial governments to encourage awareness and development.”
In the meantime, Earle said the BCTA always supports safety and abiding by rules of the road for all its members and the industry as whole.
Beaulieu believes more parking must be provided to truck drivers if this kind of situation is to be solved.
“I think the reasonable way to fix this problem is to spend the money and build a large rig- and RV-only drive-through to accommodate the literally thousands of thirsty, hungry, heavy-unit operators to use every day,” said Beaulieu. “As it stands now, these drivers have no option other than what is forced on them. If I had the money, I would build it.”
Bird said it must be a collaborate effort to find a solution to the problem.
“We are trying to work with truckers,” she said. “So if they have any ideas, we are certainly open to suggestions.”