Island grocers are frustrated, trying to negotiate a way to get goods around flooded and landslide-blocked roads along the Skeena River.
In Masset, Delmas Co-op general manager Richard Clarmont says he’s been trying to confirm whether his shipment will make it on island early next week, but BC Ferries is the latest hitch in his plans.
Both Co-ops on island are supplied out of a warehouse in Edmonton. Mr. Clarmont was able to reroute food trucks to Nanaimo and onward to Port Hardy to arrive in Prince Rupert on Monday night, but this itinerary misses the Skidegate-bound ferry by one and a half hours.
He’s hoping to talk with someone at BC Ferries to see if the islands’ ferry could wait so his two 55-foot trailers would make it aboard, but had no luck on Friday.
If his groceries don’t make it on the Monday night boat, islanders will have to wait until next Friday for more supplies.
Werner Funk at City Centre in Queen Charlotte is having similar frustrations. Although his supplier in Vancouver has offered to ship through Port Hardy, Mr. Funk can only secure room for 12 skids on a reefer truck to the islands. This will not include his bread and milk order. He says he doesn’t know where the bread truck, which is usually routed through Terrace and the milk truck are now.
He looked into bringing up a trailer on a barge, but the cost would have been around $10,000.
According to MLA Gary Coons, the province is stepping up with a subsidy of $75,000 to help Prince Rupert get fuel to the city. Mr. Coons said his office has been getting phone calls from suppliers and businesses on the islands. They’re telling him the cost of barging is too much.
The extra cost could drive the price of a jug of milk up to $10, said Mr. Coons, unless the province steps in.
Mr. Funk wasn’t surprised to hear that Prince Rupert is receiving a subsidy to help bring fuel up.
“They don’t care about us anyway, there are no roads to here. They are accommodating Rupert and that is all,” he said.
Mr. Clarmont says both BC Ferries and the Ministry of Highways have been difficult to get information out of. He says it is impossible to try and get someone to talk to, even if it is just to say, we don’t have any more information at this time.
Rerouting his trailers to Port Hardy is going to cost $3,000 to $4,000 per trailer on top of the regular freight costs.
Kerry Laidlaw, site manager at the Queen Charlotte Islands General Hospital says they are in good shape for supplies and his vendors will ship through Port Hardy if necessary. He says the hospital had a flood plan in place and ensured they got extra oxygen on island in advance. As for medicines, he has a standing agreement with the hospital in Prince Rupert to get things here by floatplane if necessary.
He is anticipating there will be a backlog of island specialist visits, as many are sent to Kitimat and Terrace as well as Rupert. But he hasn’t heard of any specific issues around this yet.
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