Wednesday, November 17, 2021

North Coast MLA seeks to calm supply chain anxiety in Prince Rupert

One of a number of photos on
Social Media Tuesday highlighting
the panic buying of the day
in Prince Rupert
With Social media posts filling up computer screens, tablets and phones with pictures of dwindling stock levels in local grocery stores, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice used her own Social Media page on Tuesday to try and bring a bit of sanity back to a day of binge buying in Prince Rupert.

The missive for calm came as local stores began to place limitations on some stock items. 

The always popular toilet paper and paper towels curiously the first of the in heavy demand items that will see limits put in place in the short term.

Also quite noticeable on Tuesday were empty shelves particularly in the Produce and Dairy sections of city stores, where low supply levels and concerns over the supply chain saw what stock that was on hand, quickly make its way to a check out line.

The situation chronicled through a range of local Facebook pages and twitter tweets and photos that highlighted the irrational consumerism that was taking place at the city's retail options.

Towards a bit of reassurance for her constituents the MLA posted a short update to her Facebook page on Tuesday afternoon, observing on the current situation in her home community, along with a reminder on some geography of note for residents to take note of.

Full credit to Ms. Rice and her call for a bit of common sense towards the situation, a message that stood alone from provincial or local government officials on the day and one that has gained a number of comments that thanked her for her reassurance, or made for observations on the communal binge buying of the day. 

The surge of shoppers buying up remaining stock called to mind some past events on the North Coast, where fears of highway 16 road closures propelled residents to the stores, leaving shelves bare and generating a self fulfilling prophecy of supply shortages.

This time around however, it's the flooding, washouts and damaged infrastructure of Southwest British Columbia which has marked the start on the rush for the stores, that as supply lines from the Greater Vancouver area stopped with no indication as to when they may resume.

A very concerning situation for those who live in those areas and perhaps a situation that as the MLA rightly observed is one where those of us fortunate enough to not have to deal with, should redirect some of our thoughts and concerns toward.

Considering the placement of Prince Rupert geographically, there are options available for resupply that should offer some calm in the anxious situation locally, with road access to Alberta and the Interior of BC and the supply hubs there, as well as water access to the south should a return to more normal commercial traffic routes continue to be delayed.

When it comes to that water access, as a result of the extreme weather of the weekend in the south, Prince Rupert for now stands as the only Canadian port with a rail and road connection to the rest of Canada and into the United States.

The Port of Vancouver has come to a standstill as its railway and road connections to the east are closed, with damage assessments still to develop a rebuild plan for those areas that have been impacted by the landslides and floods.

Something that makes Prince Rupert an even more important part of the international supply chain than ever; even if local residents may think that the chains of connectivity for them are in peril and they need to grab that last package of toilet paper.

1 comment:

  1. Walmart, Safeway, Shoppers, Dairyland (owned by Saputo), have already adjusted to Alberta distribution channels.
    Save On may have less flexibility on some dry goods (western family brand) as their operations are primarily BC based.
    Parcels, mail and Ecommerce will be delayed as networks like Canada Post may take time to redirect operations to other sorting facilities.
    Crab Season truckers out of Prince Rupert may have to look at using the ferry to Port Hardy for the short term.
    Local retailers will source product (Herschel for example) from other Canadian third party logistic warehouses.

    General rule of thumb for transit times via truck is a business day a province, this can be greatly reduced if you use team drivers.
    Rail from eastern Canada to Prince George is the other choice as we can't perform that domestic rail reload to truck locally. (yet)

    No one is saying there won't be delays, but the delays will be minor and shelves will be restocked once adjustments are made.

    Everybody take a big breath, Christmas won't be cancelled and shelves will look normal again soon.