The city is beginning to fine truckers parking on agricultural lands.

Surrey battle over truck spaces continues

Big rigs continue to park in the ALR despite warnings from the city

Great news for Fleetwood residents isn’t so hot for truckers or the city – an 80-stall big rig parking lot is set to close soon, increasing the truck parking shortage in this city.

For years, Joe Pelzer and his family and neighbours endured trucks revving their engines near his home in Fleetwood.

The parking lot in the 16200 block of 84 Avenue has been subject of residential complaints to Surrey bylaws since 1997.

The problem was caused by an unfortunate collision of land uses when the city authorized a residential townhouse development next door to the lot.

From dawn to dusk, squealing brakes, revving engines and back-up beepers have become a continuous noisy backdrop for the residents.

Now, a developer is planning to build 166 townhomes where the truck park currently exists.

Good news for Pelzer and his neighbours, but not so great for truckers or the city.

Surrey is trying to create more parking – not less – for thousands of big rigs without legal places to park.

According to a corporate report to council a couple of years ago, there are an estimated 12,000 heavy trucks registered in Surrey, with about half of those “independent” truckers left to their own devices to find parking.

Their number is growing annually by up to 12 per cent, or almost 1,500.

Just to accommodate the growth, Surrey would need another 34 acres of truck parking spaces annually.

Many of those rigs are being left within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in South Surrey, a situation that doesn’t sit well with the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) or the city.

“It’s been an increasing issue over the last number of years,” said Surrey’s Transportation Manager Jaime Boan. “We are moving forward on enforcement in the ALR, and so there are some sites that have been have been approached and action is being taken.”

Officials are concerned that the trucks on those sites are dripping oil and gas into soil that is meant to be farmed.

“It’s taking agricultural land effectively out of the reserve, and putting potentially environmentally damaging leaks into the soil,” Boan said.

The trucks will be removed and land owners will be responsible for the cost of environmental clean-up, Boan said.

Meanwhile, as the city and ALC demand that truckers stop using the ALR, the closure of an 80-spot truck parking spot in Fleetwood further increases the shortfall of available parking.

Boan said the city is working on answers to the problem.

“We have 28 temporary use permits (for parking facilities) in stream, a big increase over what we had in the past,” said Surrey’s manager of transportation Jaime Boan, and there are also three permitted facilities.

Those truck parking spaces will be in industrial land, or at least well enough away from residential property, to avoid a similar situation to Pelzer’s.

The city is expected is handing out fines to truckers parking illegally in the city, including ones that park in the ALR.

@diakiw