British Columbia says rest area plan will ‘support the trucking industry’

May 26, 2023

Ryan Witkowski


In British Columbia, the wheels are in motion to improve rest areas with truck parking along the province’s highways.

On May 18, the government of British Columbia announced multiyear plan to provide “upgrades and enhancements to key highway rest areas” throughout the Canadian province. The government says the goal of the projects is “to improve safety, accessibility and other amenities along B.C.’s highways.”

Through the Safety Rest Area Improvement Program, the province is investing $100 million over the next nine years for the upgrades. Of the total funds, $28 million is expected to be spent over the next three to “support the trucking industry and other travelers.”

The first phase of that plan is projected to begin this summer, with improvements to the following rest areas:

  • Highway 1 Arbutus rest area on the Malahat Highway north of Victoria
  • Highway 1 Kamloops Lake rest area west of Kamloops
  • Highway 1 Skuppa rest area south of Lytton
  • Highway 97 Mile 80 rest area north of Fort St John
  • Highway 16 Cluculz Lake rest area east of Vanderhoof

Officials say those improvements will include “installing new lighting and signage, updating playground equipment, increasing accessibility and improving rest area facilities, grounds and picnic areas.”

“Rest areas are an essential part of the highway system and help highway safety by reducing the risk of accidents related to fatigue or the need for people to stop on highway shoulders,” Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said in a statement. “By providing better facilities for people to take breaks from driving, these improvements to rest areas will help make traveling through our province safer and more comfortable for commercial truck drivers and everyone who uses the highway network.”

As for how the program will benefit truckers, other long-term projects are in the works that officials say will provide “substantial improvements at several key locations that will specifically support the trucking industry.” Among those sites:

  • Highway 1 Kamloops brake check west of Kamloops
  • Highway 1 Columbia rest area west of Revelstoke
  • Highway 5 Clapperton brake check north of Merritt

“This funding is especially important for commercial drivers who work long hours and require safe and accessible stopping places, so they can be focused and well-rested while they are on the road,” Dave Earle, president of the BC Trucking Association, said in a statement. “The more facilities that are accessible to large commercial trucks, the more drivers will stop and recharge when they need to.”

When asked to provide details on those anticipated improvements, the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure told Land Line the projects are in the early stages of planning, and it would be “several months before more details are available on the scope of improvements.”

The ministry noted that additional truck parking will be an “important consideration” in that planning process.

“The B.C. government recognizes the importance of the trucking industry to the province’s economy and the importance of providing modern roadside facilities that enhance the safety and comfort of long-haul truck drivers and the general public,” a spokesperson told Land Line.

As of March 2022, the province operates 201 rest areas across British Columbia. Of those sites, 145 are listed as “accessible for large vehicles.” However, despite being accessible to truckers, the ministry says that not all of those 145 offer overnight parking. In fact, truckers are discouraged from using the facilities for long term or overnight truck parking.

“The ministry generally does not encourage overnight parking for commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles as it can impact the operation of the rest area and the highway access points,” the agency told Land Line. “Nearby communities are preferred places to overnight as they have more services available for motorists.”

Given the issues many truckers have finding long-term truck parking, it seems odd to direct these trucks off the highways and into communities. Johanne Couture, an OOIDA board member and owner-operator from Brockville, Ontario, says, unfortunately, that is often the case. 

“Truck parking is extremely scarce in B.C. That is what we end up doing, parking in communities,” Couture said. “But not because there’s more services, more like any spot will do when you’re tired.”

Steps are being taken to address the situation. The provincial government says they are also looking at options for constructing new commercial truck parking along Highway 1 near Golden. Planning, engineering and initial site development is expected to begin later this year.

Additionally, the ministry tells Land Line they are reviewing its rest area master plan, and that “overnight parking will be part of that process.” Couture hopes that officials will take a long look at where – and more importantly when – drivers need additional truck parking.

“It’s the same perception on either side of the border, truck parking looks plentiful in any parking lot at 13:00 (1 p.m.), but no officials or politicians come back to see how full those parking lots are at 1 a.m. … the nighttime view is much different,” she said.

Since 2017, the B.C. government says they have invested around $28.5 million into the construction of new rest areas – along with enhancements to existing areas – at more than 60 locations. LL

Check out business news on LandLine.Media.