By Leo Quigley, AJOT
The month-long strike by independent truck drivers who haul containers for the Port of Vancouver seemed to be drawing to a temporary resolution last week.
However, retailers in British Columbia and across Canada continued to suffer the economic consequences of the job action.
One of those retailers, Rick Bohonis, president of Urban Barn, a furniture retailer with 22 stores across Canada, is fairly typical of storeowners who have suffered from the shutdown.
Bohonis’ Vancouver headquarters is the distribution center for stores across Canada. When his 30 containers of furniture were held back because of the lack of transportation, customers had to wait.
He says it will take several weeks before Urban Barn can determine how many sales were lost across the country because of the delay, but he expects there will be some.
In addition, Bohonis is being charged demurrage on his containers as they sit trapped at Vancouver’s container terminals. These costs run at C$25 per container per day and after four weeks the bill has become significant.
Bohonis told AJOT that several containers of furniture were moved through the Port of Seattle during the shutdown and the results were acceptable.
“We’re like many other retailers,” he said, “until the Port of Vancouver stabilizes we’re going to have to look elsewhere.”
He said the new container terminal at the Port of Prince Rupert will be considered for future business as will Seattle.
New estimates from the Vancouver Board of Trade show the shutdown is costing $75 million per week. This means the impact of the work stoppage is now approaching C$350 million to date since truckers parked their trucks June 27.
On July 25 nearly a dozen business groups called on Ottawa to intervene in the dispute. But the federal government has so far refused to use the Canadian Transportation Act to require truckers to return to work or face fines of up to $5,000.