B.C. truckers are divided on a decision by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to defer its already-postponed Rolling Truck Age Program by another nine months.
The program banning container-hauling trucks with model years older than 2006, in a bid to control local emissions, was expected to go into effect April 3. It had originally been set to take hold last September.
“In September 2022, we advised implementation of the Rolling Truck Age Program would be deferred until April 3, 2023, to allow for truck owner-operators to source program-compliant trucks,” the port authority said in a news release. “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.”
Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in a statement on Twitter, “The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is listening to truckers and suspending the Rolling Truck Age Program. We will find a common path forward to reduce pollution, protect jobs, and keep goods moving.”
But federal Conservatives have introduced a petition to eliminate the program altogether.
“This would have destroyed the livelihoods of many Vancouver area truckers … It would have cost them 250 grand to replace their truck,” Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said in a video posted on Twitter.
UTA has lost faith in port management
United Truckers Association (UTA) members who haul containers at the port had previously vowed labor protests against the policy but backed off after reaching a temporary agreement with the port authority last year.
UTA spokesman Gagan Singh told TruckNews.com that truckers were happy with the latest decision but added that the group’s members did not have faith in the port authority’s management.
“We are not against the environment. If this needs to be implemented it should be across the board,” he said.
Canada’s largest private sector union, Unifor, said extending the arbitrary deadline for vehicle replacement is a huge victory to protect truckers at the port.
“It’s a disgraceful program, we have been fighting it for years.”
Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor western regional director
“It’s a disgraceful program, we have been fighting it for years. The port authority is acting like a power to itself. They never cared about what truckers had to say,” Unifor western regional director Gavin McGarrigle told TruckNews.com.
“The port is saying it [the program] is deferred, the transport minister seems to be indicating it is over. We think it should be over.”
The union says a two-year pause to the phase-out and access to financial assistance would start to ease concerns.
The B.C. Trucking Association has supported the port authority’s program, and president and CEO Dave Earle said he was “disappointed” that it has been put off again.
“The program only applies to the drayage industry. The size of fleet affected is just under 1,800 vehicles,” he said. “It requires purchase of 2016 or newer [trucks], and 85% of the fleet is already there. At last count about 290 vehicles that may age out if not replaced,” he said.
“I am mystified that this has become the issue that it is.”
Unifor’s McGarrigle said the port’s position that 85% of trucks would comply with the rules is misleading because of the program’s rolling nature.
“Eight-five percent could be compliant this year and next year 40% of those people could be non-compliant,” he said.
“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,” Singh added.