Loggers, oil and gas workers and truckers in B.C.’s Peace region are waiting for a frost to unfreeze the economy in northeast B.C.
“We’re really seeing all those industries right now in a wait-and-see and waiting for frost,” said Kathleen Connelly of the Dawson Creek Chamber of Commerce.
“I hate to say it, but we need snow and we need some cold.”
Cold weather is needed to freeze the dirt service roads that connect highways to remote logging sites and oil and gas fields. Without sub-zero temperatures, the roads have turned to mud, making them too difficult for large trucks and heavy equipment to navigate.
“With no frost, they’ve just made the roads so soft these trucks are sinking out of sight,” said Gary McLeod, business manager for the Northern B.C. Truckers Association.
“It usually takes a lot of rain and stuff to make these roads soft, and we’ve just had no frost in our area at all.”
McLeod estimates the forest industry is about a month behind schedule due to the delays.
Grain harvest also suffering
The weather-related problems come on the heels of a record-setting snowfall in October which shook up another northeast B.C. industry: agriculture.
Rick Kantz, of the B.C. Grain Producer’s Association, said up to 20 per cent of the harvest in the Peace had to be left in the fields due to the unusual weather.
“This is probably the most severe one-off weather condition that I can remember in the last 40 years,” he said.
Connelly said there is positive news as demand for Peace-region products is still in place, it’s just a matter of being able to get them to market.
“Once things freeze up, those jobs are still there. The opportunities are still there,” she said. “Lots of those projects are just waiting on weather.”
“Everybody’s watching the forecast very carefully in the northeast right now.”