The flooding of Canada’s 3’rd largest city -Vancouver was all over the news just a few weeks back. Following days of torrential rain in the Pacific Northwest the port and rail services of the city suffered a huge blow. The Port of Vancouver handles C$550 worth of shipments every day that includes automobiles, food grains, and other essential goods. The intense rains not only forced 17,000 people from their houses, but also cut off the road and rail network from the city to the rest of the country. Keep reading today’s blog to get an overview of the impact of the flood on Canada’s supply chain.
Climate change is majorly responsible for the supply chain disruption in Canada
“In the last six months, B.C. has both burned and drowned…So there’s really no greater evidence of climate change right now than here in British Columbia,” says Merran Smith from Clean Energy Canada. For the second time this year, the Canadian state of British Columbia experienced major natural disasters which were linked to climate change. Moreover, the flooding and mudslides in Vancouver have demonstrated the supply chain vulnerability of this region. Important rail and road networks were totally cut off the Port of Vancouver- one of the largest ports of North America. Unfortunately, experts have predicted that extreme weather events will become more frequent and more disastrous with the increase of temperature due to climate change.
This region has previously witnessed record-breaking temperature, and wildfires, and more recently the floods. The impact of the flood on the Port of Vancouver which is important for the nation’s economy, had a ripple effect on the entire country. To quote the Canadian Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth, “Climate change is here and I think what we saw this past weekend is obviously a result of that…We know that there are more and more of these events happening.”
The impact of the flood on the transportation and logistics industry
The floods resulted in considerable delays for the trucks and trains running through this port city. Additionally, the impact will be felt for months to come. The impact of the flooding on highways was serious and extensive while it cut off all the major highway routes to the Metro Vancouver area.
Port of Vancouver
The Port of Vancouver which is an important conduit to the markets in Asia is presently undergoing a state of emergency. The 3rd largest port in N. America accounts for commercial activities of around $240 billion per year. This port connects the country to about 170 trading zones. Areas like Chicago, Ontario, and Quebec that depend on the goods brought from this port are also affected.
There was substantial damage to the port infrastructure and the Vancouver gateway experienced significant disruption of rail and truck movement. For the second time this year, the rail service to the port was suspended due to weather events. The Vancouver Port is presently struggling to cope with the surge of shipments. Additionally, there were delays in container ship berthing. The flood will also increase the anchorage demands. Nevertheless, as of now, all the terminals at the Port of Vancouver are functioning.
Railway and Highway
British Vancouver Transportation tweeted several photos showing the massive scale of devastation. The photos show chunks of earth eroded from beneath the railway tracks at several points across the region. Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway temporarily suspended operations in the state because of the damaged tracks. The rain and mudslides affected east and northbound traffic from the city. The inbound traffic from the Kamloops (450 Km from Vancouver) has also been affected.
The railway service to/from Vancouver Port came to a halt. The federal and state authorities created a joint task force to resume the flow of goods. The flood affected the operations of Canadian Pacific Rail in areas between Falls Creek and Spences Bridge. They are not able to provide an accurate estimate for when the normal operations will restart. Canadian Pacific has dispatched engineers and equipment to restore the damaged tracks as soon as possible.
Oil pipelines shutdown
The flood also halted the operations of one of the biggest crude oil pipelines in Canada. For this reason, there were disruptions in the shipments of marine fuel to the Vancouver Port. The Trans Mountain pipeline that brings in crude oil from Alberta to Vancouver is a major fuel supplier of the city. Oil pumps were running dry and residents resorted to panic buying because of the infrastructural disruption. A large number of filling stations in the capital of Victoria suffered limited fuel options. There is talk of bringing in fuel from California to cope with the crude oil shortage.
A crisis in the food supply chain
The disruption of the road and rail network led to the loss of perishable foods like eggs and milk since there was no way to transport them to the market. On the day of the flood, the port had a total of 61 ships including 16 grain carriers at anchor and 4 at berth. These vessels were about to move food grains after the autumn harvest. The groceries in Vancouver were running out of food and panic buying and lack of transportation facilities are hindering a quick restock. Additionally, in the town of Abbotsford, there had also been large scale death of livestock as a result of the disaster. There is also a lack of feed for the livestock.
It will still take some time for the transportation and logistics industry in Canada to resume its normal operations. The delays in reopening will have far fetched consequences on the economic activities in Vancouver and beyond. Although rebuilding operations are already underway, the only long-term solution for this natural disaster is to effectively deal with the perils of climate change.