'Oasis' proposal in B.C. aims public spotlight on truck parking issue

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | 11/4/2015

An official with the British Columbia city of Surrey says regardless of what happens with a proposed 76-acre truck parking “oasis” in his town, the issue of where to park trucks in Canada isn’t going away any time soon.

“Trucks and truck parking are key issues in terms of our industry and being able to accommodate those trucks for a long period of time is something that needs to be addressed,” Councilor Tom Gill said in a phone interview with Land Line earlier this week.

“There are only a handful of truck parking locations in Surrey that are permanent in nature. Unfortunately, when you look at B.C., I don’t believe there’s a formal U.S.A.-style truck park anywhere. When you’re looking at the ports we have in British Columbia, and obviously the border, this is a key component of creating a truck parking strategy that’s not only going to assist the economy but assist the drivers,” Gill said.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported last week that Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood tweeted out a petition to oppose the proposed truck parking lot in Surrey, which claims the facility could potentially pose a risk to salmon and other species in the Campbell Valley watershed.

Gill said the proposed truck parking lot along 16th Avenue in Surrey is in an area that has been mined for gravel since the 1960s. The location is near the U.S. border, Deltaport and Abbotsford Airport. The proposal envisions a “one-stop shop” for the parking area, including wash rooms, maintenance and tire repair. Other features may include 24/7 security and office space for the small-business owner-operator.

He said the city is taking environmental concerns seriously, and it is awaiting reports from the applicant – GG Metro Holdings – that address those elements. Some of the concerns he cited deal with environmental contamination via oil and other fluid runoff, but he said the city still needs to address a problem the lack of truck parking is causing right now.

“The big issue we have in Surrey is we have a number of trucks that are illegally parking in our agricultural lands,” he said. “The problem that we have in terms of supply in Surrey specifically is that, given our relatively hot market, any of the interim parking that has been created over the last number of years appears to be drying up.”

Gill said he considers the issue of truck parking to be a “quality of life” issue for the drivers.

“To be able to have amenities and to secure your truck, to ensure the truck itself is safe from vandalism and crime, not having to worry that the truck is parked in an unsecure location,” he said. “I don’t think that there are any truck washes in Surrey, and I think we have probably one of the highest per-capita numbers of trucks registered and insured in our province.”

He said the city is also awaiting environmental reports “to provide context” for the potential impact of the site on everything from habitats to light pollution and hydrology. He said he hopes the city will have those reports in hand within the next month or two.

“There are a number of issues that are still being worked on,” he said. “We’re looking for some clarity on those issues. … I think some of the environmental engineers they’ve hired are working towards solutions that would satisfy these groups in terms of their concerns.”

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