Big win for truckers: Port of Vancouver defers Rolling Truck Age Program for 9 months

0
199

SURREY: The United Truckers Association (“UTA”) is celebrating after Port of Vancouver announced that it is further delaying the Rolling Truck Age Program for 9 more months.

In 2008, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority introduced heightened environmental requirements to reduce air emissions from port container drayage trucks. The Rolling Truck Age Program was designed to phase out the oldest container trucks serving the port to significantly reduce air emissions from trucking activities in the region.

However, the Port Authority got a pushback from local truckers under United Truckers Association. “The UTA is supportive of environmental protection and reducing pollution, but has consistently called for the Port’s approach to target emissions, not people. Arbitrary criteria like truck age or the way in which a truck looks (both things that the Port’s program factored in) should never be put ahead of the only measure that counts: how much particulate matter a truck is releasing into the atmosphere,” said UTA Spokesperson Gagan Singh.

In September 2022, the authority advised that the implementation the Rolling Truck Age Program would be deferred until April 3, 2023, to allow for truck owner-operators to source program-compliant trucks. “However, in light of the current economic landscape and continued pandemic-related issues, we will again defer implementation of the program for no less than nine months,” a release from Port of Vancouver mentioned.

The UTA again organized a meeting on February 11, 2023 and attracted over 2,000 container truckers, as well as various community leaders from the Punjabi community as well as Members of Parliament from both the Liberal government and the Conservative opposition.

According to Singh, “The UTA was able to clearly demonstrate the hypocrisy of the Port on two key points: 1) The Port claim of the program reducing emissions equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road is moot when considering their annual coal exports, which release emissions equal to putting 15 million cars onto the road; 2) 98% of BC’s 90,000 commercial vehicles face different standards regarding pollution, where trucks are not judged on age, but rather on the amount of emissions they release into the atmosphere.”

Following the meeting, four of the Liberal government MPs in attendance wrote a letter to federal Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra asking for the program to be cancelled, as all the burden of cost was being unfairly put on the backs of container truckers during a severe economic downturn.

The letter from the MPs states that the Rolling Truck Age Program was designer for the Port of Vancouver and will operate within the Vancouver Port Authority. “The Program strictly applies to container-hauling trucks with no exceptions, asserting an obstructive standard that diesel-powered trucks older than 12 years can no longer operate or have access to the Port of Vancouver. The Rolling Truck Age Program place burden entirely on owners and operators. This will mean that owners and operators are entirely responsible for covering all costs associated with vehicles that have lost access to the Port. Due to Global supply chain issues within the automotive sector, owners and operators, are further burdened and limited in the transition choices.”

According to Singh this reversal of policy and approach by the Port of Vancouver is a testament to the UTA’s members and the vast number of community allies who acted in solidarity.

Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal said, “The Rolling Truck Age Program was implemented under the former Conservative government. Since 2015, our Liberal government has been working with Port Truckers and have heard their frustrations with this program. This program unfairly targets the owners and operators of the Metro Vancouver container trucking sector. This sector plays an essential role in sustaining and supporting Canada’s supply chains and contributes to employment in the province of British Columbia.”

Although I support the Port’s interest to reduce emissions, it cannot be done at the expense of one targeted group. I have been working on this issue for many years and I will continue to advocate for workers and families in Surrey-Newton as drayage truckers are critical to our supply chain and Canada’s success, Dhaliwal added.

The UTA will continue to amplify the voices of thousands of container truckers in this period of consultation and program restructuring by the Port. “We will be active and fully participate in upcoming discussions by offering tangible solutions that will improve air quality while ensuring equal, fair treatment for all container truckers,” adds Singh.