By Noah Rishaug
Record-breaking rainstorms struck British Columbia last week, with a month’s worth of precipitation falling in one day. The rain caused mudslides and flooding across the province, resulting in four confirmed fatalities.
Environment and Climate Change Canada has linked British Columbia’s 2021 weather woes, such as the fires and heat dome of the summer, to climate change.
As a result of the mudslides and flooding, all major transportation arteries to the city of Vancouver have been destroyed or rendered unusable, with parts of the Coquihalla Highway being cleaved entirely in half. Rail lines to the rest of the country have also been destroyed.
With no roads or rail lines leading into Vancouver, the city is cut off by regular land routes through Canada. The port of Vancouver is the largest in Canada, and it is the nation’s link to the Pacific Ocean. Without access by road or rail the country is effectively cut off from the Pacific Ocean.
In Alberta, a significant portion of goods come from both the province of B.C., and Canada’s Pacific trading partners such as China, Australia, and Japan. As well, a large portion of Pacific-bound Albertan goods will not be able to reach the coast, as the Trans-Mountain Pipeline has been cut off as a precautionary measure.
With the rail lines down, many of these goods will not be reaching shelves in Alberta.
Trucks are still able to travel from Vancouver to Alberta through the United States. However, they are unable to fill the gaps and carry the tonnage of goods that are transported by train.
Albertans can expect supply shortages in the coming weeks, as rail lines will take days to get up and running again. The extent of the shortages will depend on the length of time it takes for the rail lines to be repaired.
The B.C. government has stated it will likely take days to get the rail line repaired and months to get the Coquihalla fully operational due to extensive damage. Temporary segments of bridge have been transported to the gaps that have left travellers stranded.
These segments are restricted to essential passenger travel.
With disaster repair underway, and the Canadian military deployed on the scene, the situation is expected to improve, and critical transportation routes are preparing to reopen.
caption for picture: B.C. flooding from space. See topsoil from being washed into the Fraser River. Photo Credits: Chris Hadfield, NASA.