Port of Vancouver congestion worsens

More than 50 ships were waiting off the Port of Vancouver at the start of the week, with loading and unloading delayed by several contributory factors.

The port was still dealing with the impacts of a major storm two weeks ago. Continuing heavy rain caused by an unusual weather system in the Pacific was hampering reconstruction efforts in British Columbia. A provincial state of emergency has been extended to December 14th.

Rail and road links from the port to the rest of the country remain problematic, which has caused containers to back up at the port’s terminals. The Canadian government is providing more than C$4m to prepare an undeveloped 40-acre industrial site where empty containers can be stored temporarily.

The federal and provincial governments have established a joint supply chain recovery working group. This will help prioritize supply chain operations.

The governments have asked shippers to exercise restraint in seeking to send non-essential goods into or through the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

The Canadian National Railway, one of Canada’s two major rail lines, shut down its service in the region on Monday. It said that “after moving seven trains during the weekend, CN took the decision to proactively close its network as the large amounts of precipitation into British Columbia were causing increased debris, washout and landslide activity”.

The Port of Vancouver said that “a timeline for restored rail operations through the site is currently unavailable.” CN is currently sharing the Vancouver-Kamloops line of Canadian Pacific Railway.

To exacerbate the problem, drivers at two Port of Vancouver trucking companies have issued a strike notice, although Aheer Transportation has now come to a provisional deal with the drivers. Some 120 drivers at Prudential Transportation will begin a strike at the end of this week if the dispute cannot be settled before then.