After calls from the union representing Canadian truck drivers for government officials to re-open highway rest areas amid the ongoing pandemic, the province has added 35 portable toilets along major transport routes in B.C.
According to a newly released map detailing the various rest locations, the portable toilets have been installed at select commercial vehicle brake-checks, inspection stations and chain-ups.
Earlier this month, many highway rest areas and gas stations in B.C. implemented limited access to facilities or closed altogether.
That left truck drivers struggling to finding a hot shower, quick meal or “simply a place to wash their hands,” Teamsters Canada said in a statement on Thursday (April 2).
The union’s national president, Francois Laporte, said that some workers were going days without a shower and were being forced to drive an hour outside their normal routes just to find a bathroom.
“This is a matter of human decency,” Laporte said at the time. “Nobody can be expected to work an entire day without using a bathroom. It’s a disgraceful way to treat the truck drivers and delivery workers who are essential to the functioning of our country.”
In B.C., gas stations and rest stops are classified as essential services, which mean they can remain open to the public so long as operators follow the advice of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in minimizing social contact.
The province first announced the 35 new stops roughly two weeks ago, adding the first 20 during Easter long weekend.
Ministry contractors are cleaning and maintaining the 203 rest areas on provincial highways, including 48 seasonal facilities that are now open until fall. Any maintenance issues should be reported to the regional highway maintenance contractor or the nearest transportation ministry office.
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.
Earlier this week, provincial officials identified four locations where food trucks can set up safely to feed transport truck drivers during the coronavirus pandemic, with more to come.
The map can be viewed in high quality at cvse.ca/CTPM/Notices/COVID-RestAreas-PortableToilets.pdf
– with files from Tom Fletcher