3 B.C. highways reopen, food systems begin to stabilize, provincial officials say

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The heroic “round the clock” efforts to restore BC’s main transportation and food supply are starting to bear fruit, the province’s agriculture and transportation ministers said on Saturday.

Highway 99 reopened around noon PT with two lanes north of Pemberton for small vehicles only, with authorities still urging motorists to travel only for essential reasons such as returning to a primary address.

“This will provide a second connection from the Lower Mainland to the north, via Pemberton and Lillooet,” Rob Fleming, British Columbia Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said at a press conference on Saturday morning. “It’s designed for small vehicles because of the terrain – nothing bigger than a cube truck will be allowed on the highway.”

According to a statement from the provincial government on Saturday, “checkpoints will be in place and travel restrictions will be enforced,” and only vehicles weighing less than 14.5 tonnes will be allowed. Heavier trucks are expected to use Highway 3, which reopened on Friday, the statement said.

“I cannot stress enough that keeping this corridor open is vital for British Columbians where goods are scarce,” Fleming said, referring to Highway 3. “People worked day and night 24 hours a day… exhausting pace. “

On Vancouver Island, the Malahat Freeway reopened to two-way traffic on Friday after being closed by torrents of flood water last week.

Fallen trees and debris are pictured Monday after flooding swept through the area near Lillooet, British Columbia. Officials said Route 99, which was cut by the landslide, reopened on Saturday. (British Columbia Ministry of Transportation / Reuters)

The bodies of 3 other people found in a mudslide

Highway 99 was cut when a massive mudslide washed away vehicles last Sunday after a massive and devastating rain storm.

The mudslide near Lillooet killed at least four people, with RCMP confirming on Saturday that they recovered the remains of three men near the scene. The RCMP said another was still missing.

“It is very sad and tragic news for the province that the RCMP have confirmed the deaths of other people in the landslide events,” said Fleming. “Our thoughts are with their loved ones at this time.”

Asked about Friday’s new essential provincial travel restrictions on affected routes – rules that also limit motorists to 30 liters of fuel per tank until Dec. 1 – Fleming said the province still restricted travel for “purposes” essential ‘such as commercial deliveries, getting stranded travelers and evacuated to safety and recovery efforts.

“We want people to travel for essential purposes, which reconnects with their primary addresses,” Fleming said.

“We have no food shortage,” the minister said

But as numerous images circulated of empty grocery shelves in various parts of British Columbia, including areas remote from flooding, provincial Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said he didn’t there was currently no food shortage – just “pinch points in the supply chain” that are being gradually restored with new supply.

Thousands of cattle are believed to have died in the flooding of Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford as cold waters rose and food ran out. Volunteers and farmers spent much of the week trying to save as many animals as possible from the flood waters.

This composite image shows a road and farms at Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford, British Columbia, before and after flooding earlier this week. (Maxar Technologies / Document / Reuters)

Some grocery stores have limits on the amount of milk, eggs, and meat shoppers can buy.

Popham said milk drives had resumed in parts of the Fraser Valley and four tonnes of pig feed was dropped by British Columbia fire departments on affected hog farms during the last day, she said.

She said the province has secured about “five to six” days of feed for area farms thanks to relief donations from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Washington state.

“I think everyone understands that everyone is on the bridge,” Popham told reporters on Saturday. “These shelves will be restocked, we do not have a food shortage. We expect this level to stabilize in the near future.

“To the farmers now – who haven’t slept and are going through an incredibly difficult and emotional time – thank you for all your efforts. All of our hearts are with you.”

Queues for gas reported on Friday

Meanwhile, many Lower Mainland gas stations saw lines for fuel after the Minister of Public Safety announced a 30-liter limit on fill-ups on Friday night. But Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said on Saturday the decision was only “temporary” until December 1 to ensure there was enough for basic needs and supply chains. .

Long lines of vehicles were seen exiting gas stations on Friday evening after British Columbia officials announced fuel restrictions for non-essential travelers in areas of the province affected by heavy rains and devastating flooding .

It comes after supply lines, including major highways and railroads, were washed away or inundated by record rainfall that started last weekend.

Gas stations, like this Shell station in Vancouver, faced long lines on Friday night after it was announced that non-essential drivers in parts of British Columbia would be limited to 30 liters per visit due to traffic issues. supply due to heavy rains and floods. (Margaret Gallagher / CBC)

Farnworth said police would not enforce the provincial ordinance, noting the government was counting on residents to “do whatever it takes” until the ordinance is lifted.

He stressed that there were already long lines for gas even before announcing new restrictions.

“We’ve been seeing gas lines forming for several days now,” Farnworth said. “We have enough gasoline for everyone who needs it.

“For 10 days, we all have to do our part.”



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