British Columbia truckers say they’re being unfairly singled out by new regulations at the Port of Vancouver meant to address climate change.
The new Rolling Truck Age Program, which take affect Feb. 1, will deny anyone using a truck more than 10 years old access to the port.
“It’s going to affect everyone in the system,” driver Parminder Brar told Global News.
Brar’s truck is a 2015 model, so it wouldn’t be affected next month, but he says it’s unlikely he could replace it in time based on cost and availability.
“Based on my last two years’ salary, I can’t afford a new or few-years-old truck. So I will have to find another job,” Brar said.
“It’s already so hard these days to support your family with all of this stuff happening … I don’t know what we are going to do.”
Brar doesn’t understand why the regulations are being applied to port truckers, as most vehicles operate well below the allowable diesel emissions standards under B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act.
The Port of Vancouver says more than 80 per cent of vehicles that use the port are already in compliance with the new requirements.
But with between 1,700 and 1,800 trucks currently servicing the port, Unifor western director Gavin McGarrigle said the absence of 20 per cent — more than 340 vehicles — could cause major problems.
“If you take out a couple of hundred trucks right now while you have all these supply chain disruptions and vessels in the harbour, that’s just going to make a bad situation even worse,” McGarrigle said.
“It’s easy to be green when you’re green with someone else’s money. In this case, the Port of Vancouver wants a pat on the back for being green, but the cost falls squarely on truck drivers at a time of inflation, supply chain crunches and a real shortage of trucks.”
The United Truckers Association has written to the port urging it to delay the measure, citing the “significant expense” of replacing trucks, and an “extreme shortage” of trucks at dealerships
Gagan Singh, spokesperson for the United Truckers Association, said even if drivers wanted to replace their trucks, dealers have said they won’t have any new models available until 2023.
That means prices in the already limited pool of used vehicles are being pushed even higher .
“Prices are three times higher than it used to be a year ago,” he said.
“The people mostly impacted will be the smaller owner-operators and smaller companies relying on owner operators.”
He said it was unfair to apply a regulation to drivers servicing the port that other truck drivers in B.C. do not need to meet.
And he called the port hypocritical for implementing environmental regulations on drivers, when millions of tons of coal are exported every year.
The Port of Vancouver declined an interview request, citing time constraints and sent a recorded statement that did not address specific questions.
It said the environmental regulations have been in the works for more than 10 years, and that emissions from older trucks pose a threat to air quality.
Truckers have called on the federal government to intervene, and for the program to be postponed while a working group under the direction Transport Canada, not the port, is formed to address the issue.