THANK YOU ESSENTIAL SERVICE WORKERS

Normally taken for granted, B.C. truckers now in the spotlight

Pitt Meadows Protrux owner Darren Racine says there’s a silver-lining to trucking during COVID-19

Protrux co-owner Darren Racine. (Protrux image)

Protrux co-owner Darren Racine. (Protrux image)

They’re often taken for granted, but all hours of night and into early morning, B.C. truckers are behind the wheel serving as a lifeline to communities in every corner of the province.

For decades, they have been on the road, quietly providing an essential service. But now, B.C. truckers have moved into the spotlight, with many residents finding a new appreciation for the service they provide.

One might naively think that business is booming for the commercial transportation industry. However, truckers have also felt the sting of COVID-19.

Stay-at-home recommendations and physical distancing measures have temporarily closed hundreds of non-essential businesses in the province. The reduced commerce means less products need to be moved, said Protrux co-owner Darren Racine.

RELATED: ‘Business as usual’: B.C. truckers crossing U.S. border despite COVID-19

“The biggest change is the slowdown, right, we’re at 30 per cent less capacity currently. We laid off a few guys, not too dramatic, but it’s noticeable. That right off the bat is the biggest thing,” Racine said, who sits in the BC Trucking Association board of directors, representing 12,000 fleets from 400 trucking companies across the province.

Protrux, based in Pitt Meadows, conducts deliveries in Washington, Oregon, Vancouver Island, and the Lower Mainland.

“The biggest slowdown has been the U.S. side. And then, locally, it’s just been a little bit here and there, it all adds up,” Racine said, adding that they’ve had “no issues whatsoever” crossing the U.S. border for business.

Protrux doesn’t deliver medical supplies or groceries.

“If you’re one of those two, I’m guessing you’re going to be pretty busy,” he said. “Certain things like Home Depot and Rona… we deliver to both. Those sectors are busy. But your general building sectors like Dick’s and Standard, and stuff, are a little bit quiet.”

However, he said, there has been a silver lining to the COVID-19 situation.

Not only has the general public showed appreciation for the job truckers do, but some of their clients have taken steps to make this stressful time a bit more bearable.

“Some of them don’t allow you to use the washroom, that’s probably the biggest complaint I hear. On the flip side of that, some clients say don’t use the washroom, but they put out three or four Porta Potties.”

“There’s both sides of that equation.”

Racine added that some clients request Protrux drivers call when they arrive for a pickup and ask that they not leave their truck.

It’s the first time, in his memory, that media and even general public have picked up on the importance the trucking industry has to the community.

It’s an industry, he said, that’s taken for granted.

“One hundred per cent it is. I think that’s the biggest challenge. My biggest thing is let’s not forget about this. In three months from now, six months from now, a year, whatever it is. All the same guys are still going to be out there working. All of the same guys are going to be delivering the same product now, but it’ll all be forgotten” he said.

“It’s an essential service, it really is, and I think it goes unnoticed. It’s nice for it to be noticed.”

RELATED: B.C. adds highway washrooms for truck drivers

This month, the B.C. government announced it’s adding portable toilets to provincial highway stops to help transport truck drivers continue to stock food, fuel, and other necessary goods to communities around the province.

About 20 portable toilets have been installed at commercial pull-outs and inspection stations since the operation began on the Easter weekend, the transportation ministry said April 15. More are coming, with 55 brake checks and 39 chain areas around the province.

The B.C. Trucking Association has pitched in with a food truck project, offering free meals for truckers at cardlock fuel stations in Chilliwack, Kelowna, Kamloops, and Prince George.

For residents, there are a few things they can do to thank truckers, and one is to give them some extra space on the road.

“That would be awesome, not cut us off,” Racine laughed.

– with files from Tom Fletcher

Just Posted

A 49-year-old man from Coquitlam died after he was hit by a dump truck near Airport Way and Harris Road on Saturday, May 15. (Curtis Kreklau/South Fraser News Services)
VIDEO: Pedestrian dies after being hit by dump truck in Pitt Meadows Saturday afternoon

Man was walking his bicycle across the road near Airport Way and Harris Road

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 16

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Gerry Jensen had an interesting visitor last month in his backyard near Maple Ridge Park. It was a male pileated woodpecker. “I hear these guys fairly often, but haven’t actually seen one in 25 years or more. I was very surprised to see this one demolishing a suet block hanging in my Hazelnut tree. Their eyesight must be fantastic in order to find a small block like this more or less hidden in the branches.” (Special to The News)
SHARE: Fine-feathered friends feast in Maple Ridge backyard

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

The theme for Earth Day celebrations this year is “Emerge”. (Special to The News)
Keeping Earth Day spirit alive in Maple Ridge

Conservation activities contest extends to May 22 and beyond

Ron Tuck presents a Ridge Meadows Royals #33 to Larry Walker Sr., as the local minor ball association retired Larry Walker Jr.’s number. (Special to The News)
Ridge Meadows Baseball retires Larry Walker’s number

Association honours future hall of famer

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

Most Read