Port of Vancouver backs down from truck replacement rule

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by Emily Atkins

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has put a hold its plan to mandate phasing out older trucks operating at its facilities.

The Rolling Truck Age Program was designed to phase out the oldest container trucks serving the port to reduce air emissions from trucking activities in the region. 

The current fleet of approximately 1,800 vehicles provides an average of 30,000 single-sided port moves per week. Some of the container trucks serving the Port of Vancouver are more than 20 years old. These old, diesel-powered trucks are a significant source of particulate matter, which is known to cause cancer and negatively impact the health of those living along trucking corridors. 

In September 2022, the port shifted implementation of the Rolling Truck Age Program 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,” the port said in a statement.    

The port said that in the meantime it will be considering new technologies, as well as federal and provincial fleet greening programs.

“We intend to reassess our emissions reduction strategy to ensure we progress in a manner that will best achieve the objectives of our Truck Licensing System, which allows trucking companies and their trucks access to serve the Port of Vancouver’s marine container terminals. The port authority will continue to consult with the drayage sector, the port community, government, and local and Indigenous communities to refine the approach moving forward,” the port said.

Federal transport minister Omar Alghabra said 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!

The move was also welcomed by Unifor, which represents truckers at the port. “The costs involved for drivers is outrageous,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western regional director. “We need dialogue about a policy that doesn’t financially ruin dozens of truckers.”

“In 2014 when we met with Conservative transportation minister Lisa Raitt, truckers pleaded with her to stop this policy. Pierre Poilievre didn’t say a word to support truckers in 2014 when it mattered. While we welcome his sudden change of heart, truckers cannot trust Poilievre to stand up for workers’ rights when it matters.”

The union says a two-year pause to the phase-out and access to financial assistance would start to ease concerns.

The port said that the Rolling Truck Age Program has already helped phase out the vast majority of older container trucks serving the port. More than 85 percent of truck operators are now compliant with its requirements.