North Peace MLA Dan Davies says further stress to the region’s supply chain, which has already been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected due to the floods in southern B.C., but binge buying isn’t necessary.
“The food supply chain is mostly intact. There might be some delays on certain things. Our proximity to Alberta is obviously a benefit as we can bring supplies in from that direction. I don’t think people need to be worried,” said Davies, mentioning the benefits of Alberta being in close proximity to the northeast.
Photos of empty stores have wound up on people’s social media timelines, causing some concern in the northeast, especially since some of the stores are in Prince George.
Davies says that is because the city relies on products coming from the southern Interior, which is not the case for Northeast B.C. Supplies that generally come from Vancouver can now be changed to arrive from Edmonton or Calgary if needed.
A similar sentiment was expressed by Dennis Felhauer of the Northern BC Truckers Association, saying the region gets its food and fuel supplies from Alberta.
A few grocery store managers in Fort St. John also confirmed to Energeticcity that most items come from warehouses in Alberta.
“It’s not that we’re going to be running out of stuff and I think that’s my biggest thing is you don’t need to run down to the supermarket and buy everything else,” said Davies.
However, most of the goods heading to Alberta’s major cities are by rail from Vancouver, which is down.
There are sure to be impacts to supplies nationally as well since all routes coming to and from the Port of Vancouver halted this week.
Another product that may be limited in the region is milk and eggs, according to Davies.
“All the milk that British Columbia gets is produced in the Fraser Valley, around Abbotsford. There’s going to be obviously a disruption there. They’re in the 1000s, they figure, of cattle, that have lost lives. Likely, hundreds of thousands of chickens have perished.”
Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said Wednesday that thousands of animals have died as some farmers were forced to abandon their livestock and poultry.
Some animals in poor health will have to be euthanized, she said.
Chicken Farmers of Canada said 61 poultry farms were affected by the floods, but it could not yet provide a death toll at those operations.
The B.C. Milk Marketing Board is advising producers in areas like Abbotsford, Chilliwack and the B.C. Interior to dispose of their milk by dumping into manure piles as the floods have made it impossible to transport.
Davies mentions other sectors, such as tourism, being affected due to major highways being submerged in water.
The region also won’t need to worry about fuel, says Davies, as most of it also comes from the neighbours to the east.
The same can’t be said for southern B.C., especially Victoria.
“I drove my truck [ to Victoria]. On my lunch hour [on Thursday], I figured I better go get fuel. I couldn’t get fuel. The first two stations I went to were out, and the other two had two or three-hour lineups. I understand now, today [Thursday], that most of Victoria’s gas stations are now out of fuel.”
For those worried about mail delivery disruptions, Canada Post said they would be posted on their website.
Phil Legault, a representative with Canada Post, says contingency plans are being put in place to restore or maintain postal services. A service alert was issued for Western Canada.
Legault says that any items that cannot be delivered will be held in Canada Post facilities until contingency plans are in place and communicated. Those looking for time-sensitive items to or from areas in Western Canada should consider using either Xpresspost or Priority to ensure timely delivery.
Robert Boelens with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, said in an email to Energeticcity that “Ministry staff have been reaching out to agricultural producer groups to assess impacts and are working closely with them to see where assistance is most needed and what the ministry can to do to help.”
The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality released a statement Wednesday informing residents that “no disruption or supply shortages are expected for the Fort Nelson area.”Similar to Northeast B.C., supply routes for groceries go through Alberta. The municipality is asking residents to avoid stockpiling food and other necessities.
Brought on by torrential rain over the weekend, a combination of flooding, rock slides and mudslides have closed Highway 1 through much of the Fraser Valley and as far north as Spences Bridge, according to DriveBC. As well, Highway 7 along the north bank of the Fraser River and Highway 99 north of Vancouver are both closed due to mudslide as of Tuesday afternoon.
In a teleconference with provincial media, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming urged residents to be patient.
“While yes, there are challenges on our, particularly on [Highways] 1, 3, and 5, there is lots of supply,” said Farnworth
“There is, for example, in the North and the Interior, the rail links from Kamloops to the rest of Canada are operating. The truck routes from east to west across Northern B.C. from Alberta to bring supplies in are operating.”
“Transportation and Highways, as you’ve heard, is working on how to get goods flowing from Vancouver up, so there are challenges, but there are also options, and so we will encourage people to recognize this and to remember patience, and there still is lots of supply.”
With files from the Candian Press, and Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism reporter, Prince George Citizen
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