British Columbia | Food & Grocery | Health & Safety | Supply Chain & Logistics

Update on B.C. Highway/Rail Closures

November 17, 2021

Updated as of November 18 (11:45 am PT): Highway 7 from Hope to Agassiz is now open to commercial vehicles westbound ONLY to allow commercial drivers stranded in Hope and area to get to the Lower Mainland. Eastward, southward, and northward routes remain impassable. Once these vehicles have been evacuated, the highway will close to all but emergency services vehicles. It is hoped that it Highway 7 between Hope and Agassiz will reopen to single-lane alternating traffic for all vehicles later today.

Updated as of November 18 (10:30 am PT): The Malahat section of the Island Highway will no longer be closed overnight for repairs. Single-lane alternating traffic is expected to continue until at least end of day Monday, November 22 as repairs continue, with some intermittent closures for emergency access.

RCC continues to work with both the federal and provincial governments both to resolve issues, where possible, and to help enable solutions that will allow the flow of goods.

B.C. has now declared a province-wide state of emergency, as of noon on November 17. This declaration allows government to put in orders as needed to ensure essential goods and services can be delivered in a timely manner, and emergency personnel can reach affected areas. The state of emergency is in effect for 14 days and may be extended or rescinded as necessary. The categories of “essential goods” are expected to be identical to those introduced in British Columbia in spring 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Road

Highway 7 (Lougheed Highway) westbound from Agassiz to Mission (westbound toward Vancouver) is now open to essential travel only, as well as emergency vehicles.

Highway 3 (Hope-Princeton), considered to be the best option for commercial traffic in the near future, is expected to have emergency access restored by the end of this weekend, while the Malahat Highway, the only major road link leading north from the Capital Regional District to the remainder of Vancouver Island, remains one-lane, alternating directions for 30 minutes, and closed at night for repairs. The province believes that it will be repaired in the coming days.

Major obstacles need to be removed from Highway 99 (Duffy Lake Road) and Highway 1 (Fraser Canyon) to allow a return of traffic to those roads. The water on Highway 1 (Fraser Valley) has not stopped rising and thus it is not possible to forecast its reopening.

The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure telegraphed that Highway 5 (Coquihalla) may be closed for months for repair. The Coquihalla is the major highway for commercial traffic between the Lower Mainland and points east of Hope (in British Columbia, but also to eastern provinces).

Rail
Rail corridors are not currently operational between Vancouver and Kamloops due to washouts and landslides. Both CN Rail and CP Rail crews are clearing debris and conducting repairs at multiple sites with progress being made in restoring some impacted rail sections. A timeline for fully restored rail operations to the west coast is not yet available. Note that the links eastbound from the Port of Prince Rupert remain open.

Port of Vancouver

Marine terminals at the Port of Vancouver are still operating. Vessel delays and heightened anchorage demand due to disrupted terminal operations and significantly disrupted rail and truck movement are expected.

At RCC’s request, government has issued reminders to British Columbians not to hoard goods, no matter where they are located. They noted that orders relating to hoarding and price gouging can be put in as necessary under the state of emergency, but that retailers have been proactively putting limits on items once they notice runs on products. RCC is actively working with government to ensure the impact to the supply chain will be as minimal as possible, given the extraordinary circumstances. Full repairs to all affected highways are expected to take weeks.

Government has assured us that the food industry and suppliers are part of essential travel in and out of affected regions, and that they are also working with the federal government with regard to moving goods through the United States. Retailers who are having issues getting supply to isolated communities are encouraged to contact RCC, or Emergency Management BC directly, with the names and supply issues of the affected communities. Our response to media requests has been steady throughout the day. We remain available to assist in any way that we can and will continue to provide updates on supply chain issues and product availability in the days ahead. We thank you for your support and encourage you to contact us if additional information is required.

For questions or more information contact

Avery Bruenjes
Senior Manager, Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs
abruenjes@retailcouncil.org

For questions or more information contact

Greg Wilson
Director, Government Relations (BC)
gwilson@retailcouncil.org



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