Industry steps up for B.C. wildfire victims

KELOWNA, B.C. – With more than 45,000 people displaced due to B.C. wildfires, the Trucks for Change Network is doing what it can to get supplies to those in need.

Pete Dalmazzi, president of Trucks for Change, told Truck West that his organization is working with the Canadian Red Cross to get products transported to victims of the fires.

“We’re assisting them in finding donated trucking capacity to move a whole bunch of stuff to community centers that are being set up out (west),” Dalmazzi said of the partnership with Red Cross. “We are connecting them with carriers offering to donate transportation or offer reduced-cost transportation from the Red Cross’ warehouse in Calgary.”

Trucks for Change put the British Columbia Trucking Association (BCTA) in touch with the Canadian Red Cross, and three association members – Bandstra Transportation Systems, Hawkeye Holdings, and Landtran Logistics – have volunteered warehouse space in Kelowna, Kamloops, and Prince George to store donated items.

Supplies are being sent to these evacuation areas, where many displaced residents of fire-stricken regions have been moved.

“They are actually allowing Red Cross to use their facilities as hubs,” said Dalmazzi. “And then Red Cross is hiring or using us to add to the trucking work that they have to do to get that product into some of the other centers.”

One of the trucking companies helping to transport supplies to evacuation areas is Willy’s Trucking, which has depots in Alberta and B.C.

“Willy’s team members are encouraged to volunteer their time to assist with collecting donations from our clients and the general public to fill our trailers,” said Melody Mills of Willy’s Trucking, adding that the company has also been using its presence on social media to get the word out.

Anyone wanting to donate can visit Willy’s Facebook page for links to events happening in various areas to help wildfire victims.

Mills said the culture of social consciousness starts with having leaders within a company who foster the right type of attitude, which she attributes to Willy’s owners, Willy Schmidt and Bernard Dyck.

“It is always important for companies like ours to be socially conscious and assist in times like these” she said, “as it demonstrates to both our clients and the public that we are interested in social issues and not purely profit margins.”

Louise Yako, president of the BCTA, said she knows there are several trucking companies in B.C. that are helping to transport goods to various locations.

Through its newsletter, the BCTA advised its members how they could contribute to the effort, and how they could provide transportation services if the Red Cross relayed it needed the service.

“We’re getting calls now from members of the public who have things they want to donate and want to get some help with trucking services,” Yako said, adding that the BCTA would speak with the Red Cross to see if in-kind donations were being accepted. “We’re just trying to figure out now how best to coordinate that with the Red Cross.”

Yako also wanted to point out that with the various road closures due to the fires, the B.C. government would not be issuing permits for oversized loads to trucking companies for Highways 5 and 16 between Kamloops and the Alberta border until further notice, as to avoid issues on those roads, which remain open to the public and are expected to see higher traffic volumes.

Trucks for Change works with various trucking associations, including the Canadian Trucking Alliance, to communicate need during incidents like the current one in B.C.

Dalmazzi said situations like the B.C. wildfires changes almost daily, and what is needed can be different from one day to another.

“Areas that they thought they would be sending product to, they’ve have to make some switches and move them to other areas,” Dalmazzi said of the Red Cross’ efforts. “We are not the only option to them, but we’re the go-to people for the Red Cross to augment the trucking resources and distribution that they have.”

To help those displaced by the B.C. wildfires, visit

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A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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