Flooding in BC could cause local food and gas shortages and widespread supply chain problems
Catastrophic flooding in British Columbia could lead to a shortage of consumer goods, higher prices for diesel and gasoline, and an additional key to Canada’s manufacturing supply chains at a time when global trade is already on the rise. faced with record traffic jams linked to the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
British Columbia Premier John Horgan declared a state of emergency on Wednesday after flooding devastated the southern part of the province.
Washouts and landslides interrupted rail access to the Port of Vancouver, Canada’s largest maritime hub, which handles $ 240 billion in merchandise trade each year. Torrential rains also cut off major transportation routes between British Columbia’s Lower Mainland and the interior.
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And the weather emergency also resulted in the temporary shutdown of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which carries oil from Alberta to the west coast.
While it is too early to estimate how the latest natural disaster could affect Canada’s GDP, “it’s going to have a huge impact for all of Canada, but particularly for Western Canada,” said Kent Fellows, professor of economics at the University of Calgary. Global News.
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Supply chain disruptions could lead to shortages of food and consumer products, as well as manufacturing inputs, according to Fellows. An extended shutdown of the Trans Mountain pipeline system could lead to localized gasoline and diesel shortages in British Columbia, he warns.
While the flooding has already sparked hoarding and panic buying in parts of British Columbia, any real shortage would take at least a few days, if not weeks, to materialize, several experts told Global News.
Disruptions to major transportation routes mean farmers in BC’s Fraser Valley currently have to throw out perishable items like milk and eggs simply because there are no trucks carrying the produce to market. , explains Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analysis Laboratory at Dalhousie University.
“There is a lot of waste, unfortunately,” he says.
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The phenomenon could affect the supply of eggs and dairy products in the province, including the greater Vancouver area, in the coming weeks, he warns.
The effect of the flooding will also likely ripple through all manufacturing supply chains across Canada, said Andrew Wynn-Williams, vice president for British Columbia of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME).
“The Lower Mainland is one of the largest manufacturing centers in the country,” he notes, adding that the region is currently isolated from the rest of Canada.
While some factories will work on existing inventory, “the reality is… it’s not going to last very long,” he adds.
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But the most significant impact on trade flows is related to the Port of Vancouver, a key gateway for imports from the United States and the Asia-Pacific region and for Canadian commodity exports to destination of China, says Fellows.
While some of that volume would likely be rerouted through the Port of Prince Rupert and the US-Canada border, if necessary, US ports and supply chains are already grappling with extraordinary backlogs related to spillover effects. pandemic, notes Fellows.
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Right now, the Port of Vancouver still has the capacity for inbound ships to anchor in local waters, said Robert Lewis-Manning, president of the Chamber of Shipping.
But “there is very little space for the ships to anchor, and I suspect we will probably reach that capacity in the next few days … and then the ships will start lining up offshore,” Lewis-Manning warns.
Significant delays in unloading ships through the port would affect inventory levels at some retailers across Canada, he adds.
“There is a potential impact on holiday shopping, and this relates to our imports from the Asia-Pacific region,” Fellows said, adding that consumer electronics could be one of the product categories affected.
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Yet to what extent flooding will further disrupt Canada’s supply chain depends on how quickly transportation lines, and especially railways, are restored, he adds.
The Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) said operations between the Spences Bridge and Falls Creek, British Columbia, remained suspended following several track failures.
Crews continue to perform critical repair work following mudslides and washouts that disrupted rail traffic in southern British Columbia. Northbound and eastbound traffic from Vancouver, as well as inbound traffic to Vancouver from east / north Kamloops are still affected by the situation.
Canadian National (CN) said in a statement that the emergency still affected northbound and eastbound traffic from Vancouver, as well as inbound traffic to Vancouver from east and north Kamloops.
Neither CP nor CN have provided Global News with a timeline for resuming service.
– with files from Abigail Bimman of Global News and the Canadian Press
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