LETHBRIDGE, AB – One of the biggest concerns on this side of the Rockies when it comes to the impact of the catastrophic flooding in British Columbia is the supply chain.
With some highways and rail lines washed out, it’s without a doubt going to impact the flow of goods both to and from the west coast.
Trevor Lewington, the CEO of Economic Development Lethbridge, says it’s not a good situation. He says this will have a significant impact all across western Canada.
“You’re going to see a reduced amount of selection on store shelves for certain goods,” says Lewington. “This is inbound raw materials. Think about the produce from the lower mainland that comes into Alberta in our grocery stores all the way to supplies and materials coming from Asia to our manufacturers.”
Lewington says even when some roads in B.C. do reopen, there could be shipping backlogs that could last, potentially, for months.
Even now, it’s being estimated that some highways in that province, especially the Coquihalla, could take most of next year to repair. Lewington says it’s not just as simple to find a new route to ship goods when there really isn’t any and he notes going south through the United States would add significant dollars to cost of shipping.
Lewington says to put into perspective just how bad the situation is, the Port of Vancouver which is the main shipping port for all of western Canada for imports and exports, is completely cut off by land and rail for the rest of the country.
Several communities in B.C. are flooded out. The City of Merritt in the interior has been completely evacuated since the weekend and officials there say that evacuation order may last for over a week yet. Merritt’s water treatment plant failed due to the flooding, forcing the city to shut off the water and have people leave for their own safety.