Opinion

Who’s taking care of the truckers?

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“I get mad when I read stories about truckers throwing out pee jugs. I have a garbage can in my truck.”

– Rick Yzerman, Vancouver Island.

 

On the Trailer Park Boys, Bubbles reprimands Ray for throwing “piss jugs” into an empty lot.

“That’s what truckers do,” laments Bubbles. “They don’t want to park their rig, and pee in the toilet, so they fire the [bleeping] things out the window on the highway.”

Abbotsford trucker Allister Cathcart, like Yzerman, says that most drivers dispose of waste properly and use toilets, but “bad truckers who just don’t care” will drop bowel movements through holes in their floorboards, and heave pee jugs into ditches near truck stops like the one in Maple Ridge on Lougheed Highway near 240th Street.

“What you see in them isn’t lemonade, or apple juice,” says Cathcart.

Scott Magri, of Pitt Meadows, trucks to Kamloops. Recently, he found  hundreds of pee jugs on the Coquihalla Highway to Merritt and beyond.

“It’s all over,” he says. “Government has to do something to stop this disrespect of our country.”

The Ministry of Transportation, which maintains truck stops, hasn’t done that yet, even though it knows about the problem.

Instead, says Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin, it has threatened to close the Lougheed rest stop. Truckers fear the same fate looms over others.

That would only make life harder for all truckers, says Cathcart.

Daykin agrees. He’s tried to get the province to fund waste collection locally without success.

“We don’t want to let the MoT off the hook, but our work crews went down to the stop last Friday,” says Daykin. “We put up a no-littering sign (up to $10,000 fine) and a garbage receptacle. Crews also cleaned out the ditch. We’re doing what we can.”

It’s just one garbage can so far, but it’s a start that could be a model for other towns. Truckers want more to happen everywhere. They support cameras and heavy fines, but want respect, too.

“Our government does nothing for truckers and most towns treat them like dirt,” says Yzerman, my nephew. “We have pull-offs here, not real rest areas. There should be washrooms with attendants, garbage cans, pee bottle drains, and hot water to clean up. In the U.S., there’s full welcome centres. In Florida, they give you a glass of orange juice and say, ‘thanks for coming.’ You dump your jug in a urinal, and put the container in a can. Truckers wait to go there because you can wash your hands.”

If Abbotsford is listening, it will urge the ministry to improve the rest stop across from the Best Western Motel near Highway 1. It abuts Lonzo Creek. There are no Jiffy Johns, garbage cans, or hot water.

“Yes, I’ve seen guys throw pee jugs in the ditch,” a trucker told me. “They’d put them in containers if there were some.”

Lonzo is salmon bearing, says Doug Gosling, of the Abbotsford Ravine Park Salmon Enhancement Society. “It’s disgusting. That’s the water we irrigate our crops with, and the water we drink. I fished in that creek as a kid 60 years ago. They could put portable toilets there and clean them out regularly; garbage bins. Put a camera there. There should be easy solutions.  Morally, you’d think they’d want to work with the public.”

EAM Contractors is the agent for the province that maintains the Abbotsford site. I called twice last week to ask questions, but nobody called me back. EAM’s dispatcher said it collects twice-monthly. Why aren’t there garbage cans? Where is pee, which could contain Hepatitis C, disposed? Are jugs recycled or burned?

There’s bigger questions for Abbotsford. A sign here warns of a $2,000 fine for littering. Who enforces the ban? What does pollution here cost taxpayers, the reputation of Abbotsford, and the image of Beautiful B.C.?

Is the government closing its eyes and passing the buck to municipalities as part of a strategy for balanced budgets? Is it doing this at the expense of truckers, the environment, and fish?

 

– Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author and environmentalist.

 

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