‘The impact is huge,’ says Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association of rail shutdown

Click to play video: 'Rail disruptions impacting New Brunswick' Rail disruptions impacting New Brunswick
WATCH: Frustration is growing in New Brunswick as a result of the rail shutdown in the region. As Callum Smith reports, the premier says the impact is growing and the clock is ticking. – Feb 21, 2020

Frustration over the rail blockades is mounting in New Brunswick.

“The impact is huge,” says Jean-Marc Picard, the executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association. “For some communities, they rely 100 per cent on trucks.”

Rail cars in Moncton are at a standstill with the rail interruption in Eastern Canada in its second week.

READ MORE: Blockade trips up Canada’s biggest ports as shippers steer clear of rail closure

Picard says the industry is doing the best it can to make up for shortfalls as a result of the shutdown, but they can’t handle all the rail traffic.

“It’s putting a lot of pressure on our industry,” he says. “(Carriers) are very busy trying to manage their current customers and anything extra they are asked to do.”

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A small demonstration started to assemble at the track in Moncton’s Caledonia Industrial Park Friday afternoon, joining others standing tall against the Coastal GasLink Pipeline.

Premier Blaine Higgs and other premiers were on a conference call with the prime minister Thursday night.

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But Higgs says the clock is ticking in New Brunswick before the impacts really sink in.

“We have a little more time, but I’m saying it’s only days that we have,” he told reporters Friday.

The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton says the impacts are already widespread.

“A disruption on the supply chain into the region and out of the region,” says CEO John Wishart. “That includes everything from propane, both at the distributor and say the restaurant level who often uses propane, and also hard goods like cars and groceries and those sorts of things.”

“The blockades aren’t the right way to move the conversation forward,” Wishart says.

“If we need to deal in a better way on the Indigenous side of things, then let’s do it. If we need to have a bigger discussion on pipelines, let’s do it,” he says. “But let’s not hold the entire Canadian economy hostage in the meantime.”

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Picard says it can essentially become a bidding war for customers willing to pay a premium price for their load to be transported; a cost that could be absorbed by consumers.

“Some carriers will have to raise their rates because there’s only so much equipment, only so many drivers,” Picard says.

The issue needs to be resolved immediately, he says, because it’s impacting people’s lives and the economy.

“We need to get this done and faster than later.”

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