Business leaders in Canada on Saturday launched a “joint supply chain recovery working group” to find solutions to west coast freight backups that were triggered by heavy rain storms, flooding, and landslides over the past week.
Flooding caused by the extreme weather created serious delays for railways and trucks attempting to reach the Canadian port city of Vancouver, officials in the Pacific Northwest region said Nov. 18.
That blockage was significant both because of the facility’s size—the Port of Vancouver is the largest in Canada and the fourth largest in North America by cargo tonnage—and also because of its timing, which comes as supply chain snarls have already led to lengthy backups at California ports on the verge of the winter holiday shopping rush.
In reaction, government officials from the Province of British Columbia said they are seeking ways to restore the flow of goods through the province.
Members of the working group assigned to find solutions include organizations throughout the region’s logistics sector, such as: several Government of Canada departments, Government of British Columbia ministries, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the Vancouver International Airport Authority, the BC Marine Terminal Operators Association, the BC Trucking Association, the Retail Council of Canada, the Canadian Fuels Association, representatives from British Columbia's tow boat industry, the Gateway Council of BC, the BC Chamber of Shipping, CN Rail, and CP Rail.
In a statement, that group said it is “developing options for contingency transport and logistics for essential goods and materials. As infrastructure gradually reopens, the Working Group will prioritize and advise on the best routes and use of limited capacity for the movement of goods across all transportation modes, while balancing community needs and national economic interest. Furthermore, together they will consider options for diverting traffic or establishing new logistics chains in the province.”
However, forecasts predict that the group could face further challenges in coming days. The supply chain risk analysis company Everstream Analytics said it is tracking the Port of Vancouver as a “problem zone” that could face a continuation of very stormy conditions in the coming week. Heavy precipitation will continue to flow over the port in an “atmospheric river” driven by Pacific Ocean trends that could create 6 to 10 additional inches of rain in coastal areas and 1 to 4 feet of snow in the mountains, hampering recovery operations, San Marcos, California-based Everstream said in a video.
"The Government of Canada is extremely concerned with the flooding situation in British Columbia, and we stand ready to provide support any way we can,” Omar Alghabra, Canada’s Minister of Transport, said in a release. “The quality of our transportation infrastructure and the efficiency of our trade corridors directly benefit the lives of Canadians. It is important to work together to determine how best to ensure Canada's gateways stay strong, resilient and safe."
Port operations update #3 – Our supply chain partners and lead agencies at various levels of government are still assessing impact in our region. Vessel delays and heightened anchorage demand due to disrupted terminal operations are expected. https://t.co/FiIsgKFHrZ pic.twitter.com/0nwIAdGOvO— Port of Vancouver (@PortVancouver) November 19, 2021