A longtime B.C. truck driver is calling on private lot owners, municipalities and the provincial government to make more room for truckers in need of rest.
According to Lynne Fortin, over the past few years, the number of safe places for truckers to pull over, sleep, eat and use the washroom have dwindled — especially in the Lower Mainland.
“Often I find myself sleeping on the exit of a freeway until a cop tells me I have to move,” she said. “I drive and my eyes are burning, and I know I need to stop but I can’t find a place to get into.”
Fortin spoke with Global News near a private lot off the Trans-Canada Highway near Lickman Road in Chilliwack where dozens of truckers used to park, but can’t now that barricades have gone up.
Tents, recreational vehicles and private vehicles are also taking up many of the spaces available to truckers at the Cole Road and Bradner rest areas in Abbotsford, she added.
“When you’re not getting the sleep that you need you’re coming out here and you’re a hazard to everybody, and it’s really dangerous,” she said. “Help us out. We’re bringing in the goods … we’re not asking for a lot.”
In a written statement, the City of Chilliwack said the Lickman Road lot is privately owned and the barricades were not set up by the municipality.
“A quick Google of truck stops in Chilliwack shows there are several other options within our community, such as a Petro-Canada truck stop on Yale Road, or the Huskey truck stop on Vedder,” communications director Jamie Leggatt said. “Both of these locations also feature options to purchase food.”
The B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure added that Abbotsford police are aware of overnight camping concerns at the Cole Road and Bradner rest stops, as well as passenger vehicles using the truck parking at the Whatcom interchange.
Construction is underway on the North Surrey Truck Parking Facility off Highway 17, about 600 metres east of the Port Mann Bridge, which will be completed late in 2023, it said.
“When completed, the site will have room for 106 commercial trucks and include washroom facilities with showers, a sani-dump, and security measures such as fences and lighting,” reads a statement.
“While still in early planning stages, truck facilities are being considered as part of the Fraser Valley Highway 1 Corridor Improvement Program.”
There are more than 200 rest stops in B.C., but few west of Hope. According to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, it maintains 154 rest areas that open to commercial vehicles, nine of which are reserved for commercial vehicles only.
Dave Earle, president and CEO of the BC Trucking Association, said his organization is working with the provincial government to improve the number and quality of rest stops across the province.
“For decades we haven’t invested what we need to in our commercial goods infrastructure,” he said. “Right now, there’s just not nearly enough places for vehicles to pull over, for drivers to be able to get out of their units, grab a cup of coffee, to use the facilities and get back on the road safely.”
Privately-owned lots are being “taken away” as they’re redeveloped, he added, and public areas are “not maintained” in a way that allows trucks to get in and out with the space that’s required.
Earle said he’s encouraged by the North Surrey development, but noted there are more than 20,000 heavy commercial vehicles registered in Surrey alone, so it’s a “drop in the bucket for what’s really needed.”
He said the association also inquired last week with the Ministry of Transportation about measures to ensure commercial truckers can use rest stops where members of the public have been sleeping and parking RVs, but he hasn’t heard back.