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There is currently no way to drive between Vancouver and the rest of Canada (kelownanow.com)
641 points by actually_a_dog 63 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 449 comments

For just a bit of context/anecdata, I'm talking to my brother who lives in Vancouver and he wasn't even aware this was a problem. The road closure[0] on hwy 1 near Abbotsford/Chilliwack is a good one hour drive away from Vancouver core[1]. So while it sounds noteworthy for an entire city be technically flooded in, unless you were driving to the boonies, you're probably not actually impacted in any meaningful way.

He also mentioned the weather cleared since yesterday, so floods should start to subside. You can follow the updates here[2]

[0] https://www.drivebc.ca/mobile/pub/events/id/DBC-35180.html

[1] https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Vancouver,+BC,+Canada/Abbots...

[2] https://www.drivebc.ca/#listView

I live in Vancouver - my coworkers and family were very aware of this, watching footage online and exclaiming at the brutal nature of the weather and landslides we experienced yesterday. Never seen this many roads closed in BC in my nearly 4 decades living here.

The whole upper pacific coastline is experiencing it. There is a lot of flooding along the Oregon coast as well with cars/trailers floating away and evacuations. Intense rains for days at a time. I mean we get a lot of rain here, but this has been pretty crazy and constant.

Let's hope it migrates further south and relieves some of the California drought. Any meteorologists have a sense of the weather patterns at play here?

Oh, the atmospheric river did hit California, and pretty hard in some places. Last month was the wettest October on record here in San Francisco. The area around Dixie (where there was a big fire earlier this year) saw landslides.

According to a podcast I listened to, this pattern might actually be bad because alternating cycles of extreme rain and extreme dryness means more vegetation growth during the wet months which in turn means more fuel to burn during the dry months.

The loss of established growth hurts in the rainy season too as landslides worsen. In our local San Bernardino mountains here burn patches quickly turn to land or mudslides.

It looks like we will be in another La Nina year, which means wetter northwest and drier southwest.. unfortunately.


That's not saying much anymore - the systems getting more and more unpredictable. The last La Nina was also supposed to worsen the ongoing drought but ended up dumping so much water that the state of emergency (or whatever its called) was withdrawn that March. IIRC it did dry out the San Diego area a bit, where the drought wasn't as bad.

Typically it's snowpack that relieves drought. All torrential rain does is remove topsoil and blow out bridges

Torrential rain can replace water in underground aquifers. But there is only so much water that can be absorbed by the ground, much of it just rushes out to sea.

According to this meteorologist “Drier-than-average winter still most likely outcome for most of California” https://weatherwest.com/archives/11748

Average winter seems a distant memory in Cali.

2017 and 2019 were big Sierra snowpack years, double average. I don't mean this to be a comment on long term trends.

If you don't mind two international border crossings, there actually is a way to drive from Vancouver to the rest of Canada.

For example: https://imgur.com/a/MAqFSHd

Much more difficult at the moment, due to COVID.

The big issue is that the port in Vancouver is now essentially an island. Rail is impacted by this as well.

The CP mainline that washed out will take a while to fix, but the other mainline, CN, doesn’t seem to have taken any serious damage.

They’ll definitely have some cleanup somewhere, but that happens after every storm.

I hope the two have some mutual aid agreement to bypass over each others tracks.

As far as I understand it, they already share their tracks in routine service, using one westbound and the other eastbound.


> A similar example exists in the Fraser Canyon in British Columbia, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific each own a single track line - often on either side of the river. The companies have a joint arrangement where they share resources and operate the canyon as a double track line between meeting points near Mission and Ashcroft.[22]

“Competitors” sharing networks is such a Canadian tradition.

Just like 2 of our 3 big cellular companies (Bell and Telus) sharing a single network.

I'm guessing its your point, but to spell it out, canada has oligopolies or monopolies, it doesnt have competitors at least in telecom and banking. From what I understand (like the recent Kansas? railway acquisition) CN and CP may actually be more in competition than some other industries. There is some complexity because part of the tradeoff for being granted oligo/monopoly status is the requirement to allow others on their network (e.g. for telco so maybe also for rail - I know they have to let Via, even if it's on a low priority basis). But overall, the business environment in canada is much closer to some kind of aristocracy or feudal system than an actual competitive landscape. Maybe that's true everywhere and just not as easy to see.

> it doesnt have competitors at least in telecom and banking

To be fair, the high regulation that we have in the banking sector insulated us from a lot of the 2008 financial crisis. So it's not all bad.

The big banks spent the early part of the 2000s complaining loudly about being "left out" of the financial boom happening and wanted to internationalize and merge with US banks, and our government said no. America's regular cycle of financial crises and ruin kind of proves that unrestricted competition should not always be the unconditional goal of a given industry.

In terms of rail (and other infrastructure), keep in mind that our country is bigger than the US and we have 10% of the population. A lot of our monopolies/crown-corps exist because if it wasn't for government subsidies/handouts, none would exist at all.

So it's not always a reasonable argument to say there "should" be competition, when it doesn't make financial sense for new entrants to compete. No one would ever fund the startup costs, because it would take decades to make the money back, if you ever did.

That said, our telco sector does absolutely need a shakeup and competition (better rules for CLECs to use ILEC infrastructure etc).

Thank you for eloquently describing why Canada has chosen a different path than the USA. Banking, for example, is such a clear-cut case of competition not being detrimental for Canadians. For example, I've seen Americans laugh at Canadians on Reddit for not having the Cash app when our equivalent service is available directly from our banks (with a shitty UI, sure) and free. I pay my plumber with e-transfer and couldn't be happier.

Canadian banks are the most profitable in the western world, because we pay the highest fees in the western world.

A lot of it is hidden - Canadian banks charge outrageous sums of money for foreign exchange fees. Credit card interchange fees are reliably a full 1% higher than in the US. e-Transfers are intentionally limited in size so that banks can still make their money on credit card payments etc.

Interac is a bank-owned monopoly, and merchants eat astronomical fees even though it's nominally "free" to send an email money transfer to your plumber.

The more you dig into the Canadian banking ecosystem, the more you realize how powerful it is and how much rent-seeking is really going on.

The amazing part is that they've convinced the average Canadian that this oligopoly is actually good for them. Marketing works!

Anyone working in the financial services space, however, understands that the reality is really much darker than people realize.

This is all true.

What is also true is that Canada has never had anything like the S&L scandal in the 90s or the 2008 US financial crisis where massive swaths of the working class lost much of their savings.

So sure, we have higher fees due to regulatory capture, but I'll take that trade to know that some unregulated finance bros aren't fucking around with my life savings.

Not just higher fees. Our GDP/capita relative to the US has been in steep decline. Cost of living is also higher across the board on everything from food to electronics, above and beyond what straight foreign exchange would suggest.

Gas is more expensive too. Oh, and wages are stagnant (except for in tech), which is a real problem when inflation hits 5% (as it is now). Productivity growth has been basically non-existent for decades.

Can I connect all of this to the banking oligopoly? No, but it's symptomatic of the larger problem: that Canada is a very difficult country to do business in. Ham-handed government regulation in every part of the economy is a huge drag on economic growth.

> Banking, for example, is such a clear-cut case of competition not being detrimental for Canadians

How much does the average Canadian pay per month for their chequing account?

There are a lot of free options: even more if you consider ones that require a minimum balance. The paid ones though are typically $10-15.

Where they really get you though is in service fees. If you overdraft or do any one of a myriad of options you can get hit with penalty fees. Basically you just have to treat the minimum balance as a hard zero.

You can be pre approved for over draft and pay no fees

Until you use your credit card. Interchange fees in Canada are a full 1% higher than in the US, on average. You pay for this in higher prices on goods and services.

Or until you buy something in USD. Foreign exchange fees in Canada are a multiple of what they are south of the border, and Canadian banks ruthlessly protect this business by refusing to bank money service businesses that compete with them.

Canadian banks are the most profitable in the world, and they're really good at making customers think they're not paying that much for the pleasure of feeding the oligopoly.

What does a credit card have to do with overdraft?

Yes, that is probably true: I have kept a minimum balance ever since opening the bank account so I am not really familiar with how it all works. I have heard the horror stories though about how the bank will order the transactions to incur the maximum fees (at $20 or more per transaction) if you miscalculate the balance when the bank account is close to empty.

More an American thing I think, for rbc in Canada it’s a 5$ fee to handle the overdraft.

Some sectors tend to get regulated as utilities rather than businesses, because they tend not to lend themselves to competition.

Railways are a classic example; two railways rarely directly compete with each other (since even if they connect the two same points they probably do so via wildly different routes) and some level of coordination is needed to avoid scheduling conflicts on competing trains.

Canada is a country sized company with a captive audience. This all goes back to the days of the Hudson Bay Company and how Canada was founded.

It's essentially a peninsula, it still has road and rail links to Washington State.

Northbound I5 is flooded in Washington, however, so still not a great route for the next day or so: https://twitter.com/wspd7pio/status/1460623860944932864

It's effectively become a Canadian version of Port Roberts. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Roberts,_Washington

Except Point Roberts (not Port) is just a residential area that isn't self sufficient in any way, and doesn't have thousands of containers arriving for shipping inland

Sigh, brain lag. At least the wiki link I pasted was correct.

Nothing to add to your point about self-sufficiency, my intent was to draw parallels to the comment I was responding to. ("It's [Vancouver] essentially a peninsula, it still has road and rail links to Washington State." <=> "It's [Point Roberts] a peninsula, it still has road links to British Columbia.").

The big issue is that half of Abbotsford may well turn into a lake, and Chilliwack will become completely cut off from the world (because of damage to the highways further east, and the flooding in Abbotsford.)

And unlike Vancouver, it can't just get food and animal feed brought in by ship/from the Peace Arch border crossing.

It was originally a lake, so... probably shouldn't have built there.

Sounds bad for supply chain.

There was a case study I read in some supply chain courses a while back that was about supply disruptions in supermarkets due to a temporary but unforseen border closure somewhere in Central Europe. I don't remember exact numbers, but the relationship between the number of missed supply trucks and products out of stock was roughly exponential. After a single truck, there were like a dozen products out of stock. But after a second truck, there were over 400 products out of stock. By the fifth missed truck, 20% of the entire store was out of stock.

Since most stores have distribution centers that can break up replenishment into small increments, grocery stores typically use a method of inventory management that "tops up" inventory levels on a scheduled basis. High demand items might get replenished once a day or more, while some might get replenished on 2, 3, 4 day intervals all the way up to monthly intervals for low demand durable items. Replenishment schedules are staggered on a per-SKU basis, so that the number of trucks per day is roughly constant.

The short story is that delayed trucks might be a tiny annoyance, but a full supply disruption can cause utter chaos in less than a week. If reroutes through the US aren't facilitated, you can expect to see all of the most commonly purchased items in your grocery store out of stock far sooner than you expect.

Almost everyone in Vancouver, Vancouver Island, all over BC really, has flooded basements and other stuff to deal with. My school closed down due to power outages, for example. The road to the local landfill has washed out. Half of my classmates were without power last night, and one of them is on the wrong side of a mountain pass and will miss class today. Our teacher has decided not to bother trying to get to campus and we're back to Zoom school.

I wouldn’t say almost everyone; majority of people are fine but there’s definitely many people who have to deal with flooding and water damage.

Itt: People telling about how the flooding has directly and severely impacted their lives, and commenters who got lucky explaining how it's actually not a big deal.

I mean I live in the lower mainland and I know exactly 0 people who have personally experienced any damage or loss. Given that I have friends all over the Lower Mainland and Interior BC and family up and down Vancouver Island it’s a decent sample size.

I have empathy for those who are going through hell right now but I’m just pointing out that your assessment of “nearly everyone” is way off base.

Meanwhile I’ve got relatives evacuated from Merritt, classmates who won’t be able to attend class for a week, and almost everyone I know lost power over the weekend. Facebook is full of people asking for fans and pumps to dry out their basements (including people I know personally). You say look at the bigger picture but you’re counting your personal experience as the best indicator of it. I’d suggest the news is showing the bigger picture.

Yes some areas are devastated and cut off and have a long, hard road ahead but that still doesn’t mean “nearly everyone” in the province had issues. Again; vast majority of people were fine; some areas were hit incredibly hard and other areas had minor issues but the majority watched it come and go with zero consequences.

The news is a bad example because they are clearly going to focus on the places that were hit the hardest. It’s not a very good story to say “everything in X area is absolutely fine”.

Don't let empathy blind you from an accurate assessment though.

I spent an hour and a half today tracking down and explaining how to use sump and transfer pumps to a friend of mine near Mt Vernon, WA. I've lived in a place that floods for almost 9 years so I take for granted that people know how siphons and various pumps work.

There was only two pumps available in all of whatcom county, from what I saw. Even the harbor fright was out of everything.

Btw if you don't have a pit to put a sump pump in, you want a transfer pump that self primes. The prices are insane right now, but generally $60-100 for 300GPH 100VAC. If you're willing to be careful and mitigate damage to dirt from water, you can dig a hole for a 5 gallon bucket and drop a sump pump in it. You might have a wee bit of standing water under your house but it's better than 3" of water.

My house is 6' above grade, and 3' above the pad, so I don't worry much, once when it rained 28" in three days there was 3" of water on the road out front but I didn't need to go anywhere. A couple days later I did a drive about and so many people had their homes flooded near the farmlands.

Stay safe and pay attention to your local authorities about closures and warnings, and don't cross water on the road, especially if you've never seen the road dry. A large flooding can wash away the road, too, so just stay off the roads if you can!

I’m a Vancouverite, and this is a pretty narrow, short sighted view. Sure, some people aren’t very impacted, but a tonne of people are. Lots of people who need to travel around the province but can’t, who were travelling and can’t return home, who can’t ship things in or out, whose basements are flooded, etc.

For just one story, my wife’s boss was travelling in the interior (drove there). Doesn’t have his passport because he wasn’t planning to leave the country. Is now stranded, trying to decide whether to abandon his car and fly home, so he can get back to the small business he runs, or try to wait it out so he can drive home in god knows how long. Tonnes of people facing impacts like this, or much worse.

They might be able to get the car shipped (train or transfer service), even if that takes a while.

If the closure is longer than X (based on work, hotel, etc) then it might be cheaper to fly and also have the car shipped; or even sold if they have extras.

Yeah, I’m sure they’ll figure it out - it’s a tricky situation, but not an impossible one. Many, many people are in far worse situations with this flooding, e.g. having their homes or businesses flooded.

Just wanted to share a personal example of why I strongly disagreed with this comment:

> So while it sounds noteworthy for an entire city be technically flooded in, unless you were driving to the boonies, you're probably not actually impacted in any meaningful way.

I'm surprised there's no shortages yet because trucks can't get to the city. Or does Vancouver import most non-regional goods from the US (and not the rest of Canada) anyway?

Keep in mind that Vancouver is a port city, and the road closures did not affect roads to the US so for the vast majority of the people in the city, the impact is likely minimum. I'd be more worried about disruptions for municipalities like Hope, which are only connected to Vancouver by a handful of roads (the next major hub in the other direction would be Calgary, which is... well, pretty far away).

> road closures did not affect roads to the US

The storm that hit which caused the flooding which closed the roads also hit the Vancouver-adjacent parts of the US, so some of those are closed as well.

Gas comes through pipeline from refineries in Washington, so that should be largely unaffected.

Lots of produce does come from the Fraser Valley which is impacted, but also North/South links to the USA (ie. we get heaps of produce from California).

I assume there's a fair amount of food that is delivered from the port, as a lot of food packaging warehouses are near the port.

Most trade in Canada is North/South aligned. Tbh the east/west orientation of the country doesn't make a lotta sense lol.

No it doesn't. Vast majority of the gas is through Trans Mountain from Alberta. Also, more than half of the oil that gets refined in Washington comes from an arm of the Trans-mountain pipeline, so also Alberta. 100% of the fuel used at the Vancouver airport also comes through trans-mountain.

>Most trade in Canada is North/South aligned. Tbh the east/west orientation of the country doesn't make a lotta sense lol.

As Paul Krugman wrote, Canada is closer to the US than to itself. (<https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/13/eh/>)

Yes and the east west rail link was a big reason why B.C. joined and stayed in Canada.

> we get heaps of produce from California

Are the prices in line with what those products would cost in the US (e.g. WA state)? I was under the impression that the prices in BC were lower, so now I'm wondering if the price adjustment to account for local markets is significant or not, or if I misremembered completely.

Prices aren't very different than WA state for most goods, but that's because BC, just like WA, grows a fair amount of food in the interior.

Much of its out-of-season produce comes from California, but that's the case in WA, as well.

Things like cheese are very expensive in BC, but that's due to Canada's dairy tax situation.

I feel like the in season (from Fraser Valley) vs not in season (california or mexico) produce price is only like maybe a +$1-2 price modifier on things?

I don't look too closely at my grocery bill, so I'm probably not the most helpful person to ask.

I assume all the food is cheaper in the USA than Canada.

My impression are the prices are pretty similar with exception to dairy, where Canada has more stringent regulations and therefore prices are slightly higher.

Last time I was in New York was a good few years ago, but I was very surprised how much more expensive supermarket food was than in the UK, like 3x more. In a huge country with lots of farmland like the US with less stringent food regulations in theory food should be cheaper so I’m curious as to what causes this price difference.

New York as in New York City? Everything needs to be trucked in and out and there are toll bridges everywhere. Go to the suburbs and food is cheaper. Go further and it’s way cheaper.

New York is a crazy expensive city and most of the stuff people want to eat comes California or Latin America. It's quite a bit further to travel compared to i.e. importing from North Africa or Europe.

There don’t seem to be shortages in Vancouver or surrounding areas from what I’m hearing. However, I’m in Chilliwack house sitting while my family is away. There absolutely are shortages here.

Three gas stations are out of gas (this was before noon) people are driving down with jerry cans to fill up extra fuel, stores are all bare because people ran to the stores to stock up on food, there was a line to get in the grocery stores. While inside some people were pushing two carts full of groceries to the checkout.

The roads going West are flooded out and the roads to the East are flooded out. There is definitely shortages here because Vancouver has the regional warehouses. There is no resupplies that can come into Chilliwack, and there hasn’t been an announcement on when the roads will clear.

Some areas are told to shelter in place and others are told to evacuate.

Vancouver is one of Canada's major seaports and air transport hubs, so there's that. Still, road, rail, and ferry disruption is extremely troublesome.

It's the biggest coal port in North America, so that will likely be disrupted for a while here.

The BC Milk Marketing Board has told many of its producers to begin destroying their output until further notice since there is no means of transporting it:


Vancouver's surrounding agricultural areas, lush as they are, will now be almost out of commission for an indefinite length of time.

Dump, dump! Just whatever you don't sell 4 l of organic milk to a local for five bucks; they will get used to it.

The milk board managers must be quaking in their boots realizing that some milk could get sold without them getting their slice of the take.

You'd presumably need the herd to be certified to sell raw milk like that.

The other option is turn it into cheese

The shortage is the other way. The rest of BC gets most of its produce from the lower mainland. I live in Kelowna (funny to see a local news site on here), and our stores have basically no produce because we can’t get anything from the lower mainland. Fun times.

Conversely, the outward flow of Okanagan wine products will be sharply affected. For example, the market for Okanagan ice wine in Asia is huge. Also, when the Lower Mainland growing season is done, the produce shipped from Chile and Peru comes into Vancouver's ports and goes out across western Canada and the North.

At least ice wine is shelf stable for years, right? It's not like it's gonna go bad; it'll just be a little bit of a delay until it can be sold.

the Trans Canada Highway in some parts is an undivided 2-lane road, so it wouldn't be surprising for freight to choose to take something like I-90 instead, though you would have to go through border checks.

Anything going to southern Ontario or Quebec would already be going through the US if it could because it’s faster, better weather and cheaper gas. The only stuff that wasn’t was stuff that couldn’t (can’t/won’t do the paperwork). Customs bonding and inspections can be a real pain.

Canada Post is going to be a real mess though. They either fly or truck overland domestically.

I don’t think they do any rail.

The Trans Canada Highway from Kamloops to Hope was largely superceded as a trucking route by the more capacious and direct Coquihalla Highway after 1986. Now the Coquihalla is in dire condition.

The Coquihalla is one of the more dangerous highways you will ever drive, particularly in winter, mainly due to altitude and bad weather. Not fun in a white out.

Just imagine this much moisture falling there as snow.

It has an airport, a ferry terminal, and a port with a railroad. I suspect trucks are not the main way supplies are delivered.

BC Ferries has a multitude of travel advisories in effect due to the high seas and winds, so reliability is a concern. Vancouver has 2 ferry terminals, and both are subject to the conditions.

Just saw a post from my cousin in Victoria the store shelves are empty it’s crazy.

Son has a hockey tournament next week in Vernon, BC. Due to road closure, Google Maps is sending me to Washington State and back into Canada. Absolutely wild.


Sorry, that route won't work either. The I-5 in WA had closures last night and could close back again anytime: https://twitter.com/wsdot_traffic/status/1460419932131250177

I’m sure you’re aware, but just in case: bring tire chains if you’re crossing Washington mountain passes as they can sometimes be required.

If you live in Vancouver and are staying there it is not an issue. But there is an amazing huge scale issue of access to the interior of British Columbia. 2 out of 3 highways from Alberta are closed. That means you have to drive either an ~ extra 500 miles north, or south, to travel 50-100 miles west or east. There is no way to travel across a whole region of a huge country. Similar to closing all east west highways in southern California, from the Mexico border to lake Tahoe. Sure , you can drive down to Mexico, across to Tijuana, and back up.

I live in Vancouver. It absolutely is an issue. It’s a huge issue. We are the primary port for western Canada. All shipments that would have been routed via road and rail travel through Vancouver now need to be rerouted either via air or through the USA. Gas shipments are going to be complicated. Food shipments are going to be complicated.

These highways that are closed due to collapse are built into the side of mountains and require significant engineering testing in order to be deemed safe to rebuild on, not taking into account the amount of engineering that’s required to actually safely and sustainably rebuild them. Suburbs of Vancouver (Abbotsford) are essentially underwater.

It is patently false to say this isn’t an issue for people who are living and staying in Vancouver. Hell, even major highways within Vancouver have been shut down. These are much more temporary shutdowns than the primary highways out of town, but still require respecting in order to repair and restore which limits travel.

I didnt mean to belittle your issues. I was trying to respond to op, that this affects the whole province, and is actually serious. I think it will become moreso as we move along. As you say, there is some serious engineering ahead. We were wondering how long to fix rail road? If a hundred years ago, it seems as if we could act faster. During WW II also. We shall see fast 'they' fix this. and for that matter, the whole country. If rail down, no Chinese imports, no metallurgical coal or grain exports.

Which highway to Alberta is open?

Highway 16 and the 43 (2 on the BC side) are still open. They're probably referring to the 16 because the 43 is pretty out of the way. The 1 and 3 is still open on the AB side too, though avalanches were/are causing trouble in Rogers Pass in central BC.

any drive conditions in BC can be checked at https://drivebc.ca/ in AB https://511.alberta.ca/#:MyRoutes

Anyone who was seriously motivated to get to the rest of Canada could drive through the US or take a ferry to Vancouver island, drive to Port Hardy, take a ferry to Bella Coola or Prince Rupert and drive to the rest of the country from there. It would take forever and the roads from Bella Coola and Prince Rupert are notorious. Vancouverites say the Coquihalla is the gnarliest road in Canada, and it just shows that they've never seen the rest of their country. The 2 lane, gravel, Heckman Pass on highway 20 is nothing like the paved, seperated 4-6 lanes of the Coq.

As an anecdote, I live significantly East of Vancouver, but most of our goods come from the port of Vancouver. Things are going to get really interesting, as these roads will take a while to be repaired.

I live in Vancouver and had no idea until a friend in another country saw the news and asked me about it. Not to say people elsewhere in BC weren’t impacted (one town had to evacuate) but the media is not painting an accurate picture.

Yeah, the evacuation order in Abbotsford[0] seems like the real news to me.

[0] https://www.abbotsford.ca/alerts/evacuation-order-and-alerts...

Merritt seemed big as well.

Perhaps the picture being painted by the media is not being accurately assimilated by you? This is real, and magnitude of the circumstances is dire.

Dire in what way? Vancouver still has the YVR airport, a seaport, ferries, a downtown float plane airport and both road and rail access to the US. There will be some impact to prices, I imagine, while the road and rail links to the rest of Canada are rebuilt.

Dire for Merritt (evacuated), Princeton (under water), Hope (all highways closed or curtailed), Abbotsford (under water), Chilliwack (under water), Fernie (no highway access) and a host of other places on the mainland and on the Island that are vital transport, agricultural, forestry, tourism, and mining centres. You mentioned prices, so scale it up to international economics level.

Also Cowichan (cut off by road and also on an island) and the Gulf Islands (many without power, probably for a long time).

If I had a nickel for every time folks have suggested moving out to the country as a solution to the housing crisis...

He he, and if I had 4 million nickels I might be able to afford a small home in Metro Vancouver.

[EDIT] see reply - should say 40 million but what the heck, I ruined the joke.

You _might_ be able to afford a small home for 200K?? I thought Vancouver was much more expensive than that. Or do you mean only the down payment.

I think a reasonable variation on that strategy is for a bunch of people to "move out to the country" all at once, and in roughly the same place. I.e. bootstrap a new city. It'd take a high level of coordination to pull it off successfully though. Ideally they would move somewhere not in a flood plain and not subject to a substantially higher risk of natural disasters (or the not-entirely-natural disasters brought on by climate change). Part of the reason we have a shortage of housing in cities that people want to live in is that we have a shortage of cities that people want to live in.

Otherwise, just moving to the country just means you're dependent on infrastructure in different ways. You might be able to grow your own food if you had to, which is an option city people don't really have. That's worth something.

Did someone suggest that?

It comes up pretty frequently, in topics about remote work, housing crisis, homelessness, minimum wages, etc.

Onto a floodplain...

Fernie is accessible both from the south and the east.

zaptheimpaler specifically said they were talking about the reporting on Vancouver, not elsewhere.

I'm totally unfamiliar with the geography there; are peripheral cities and towns around Vancouver as unaffected as Vancouver itself? I can imagine it happening in some places I've lived, where the central city is humming along just fine and everyone inside the city is blind to the 50% of the population around the city that just got stranded and cut off from supplies.

Depends what you consider peripheral. The places within a couple hours big enough to notice as you drive through are basically Lions Bay/Squamish going north, Maple Ridge/Mission on the 7, and Abbotsford/Chillwack/Hope on highway 1 out the Valley.

Chilliwack and Hope might be cut off, though I think it's possible to get there via minor roads/unusual routes. Abbotsford is partly flooded, but areas that aren't should be accessible. Lions Bay/Squamish and Maple Ridge/Mission are fine, as far as I know.

So if a 1-2 hour drive is the limit, then parts of Abbotsford/Chilliwack/Hope are pretty miserable right now, but it should be fairly localised.

On the other hand, you can argue that most of Southern BC is "peripheral" to Vancouver, despite parts being 4-5 or more hours away. Those parts will have more issues, since you start getting into places where the only connections are (were) the highways that flooded and washed out.

More or less. Greater Vancouver suburbs largely unaffected. Farther out peripherals (Abbotsford, Hope) badly flooded. All regional towns and cities beyond those cut off.

"In the wake of the extreme weather events that continue to devastate First Nations across BC, the First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) calls on the Provincial government to declare an indefinite State of Emergency in BC, effective immediately."


Perhaps the picture being painted by the media is not an accurate representation of reality. Get a grip man

The picture painted by the media is a pretty accurate representation of reality. This recent spat of weather has been pretty horrifying for a lot of people in the valley. Mudslides, power outages, flooding. My parents have been dealing with it for the past few days in their homestead out by Chilliwack, and it's not been great.

I understand that someone WFH in their swanky Kits apartments isn't particularly impacted by any of this, but there does exist a BC outside of Vancouver.

The parent comment to mine specifically mentioned media coverage. So, bearing in mind that there are states of emergency declared throughout the Province Of British Columbia as a direct consequence of this atmospheric event, there is plenty of objective primary source material available to anyone from those authorities should a person decline to believe media reportage.

This is complete bullshit. EVERYONE is affected. Honestly, just read the BC news. If they think they aren't affected, then they don't understand BC supply chains and haven't noticed... yet.

From the CBC:

"The rail lines in question are the main arteries in and out of the port. "The mere fact that those trains are stalled means that it's going to back up further because those ships are still underway," Prentice said.

Adel Guitouni, a business professor at the University of Victoria, says the pandemic followed by recent natural disasters have underscored just how fragile global supply chains are.

"It would have a huge impact, and it would be felt not just in B.C. but across the country," he said in an interview. "You start having shortages in places and a lot of accumulation in other places."

Depending on the extent of the damage, he thinks the rail companies will likely have most of their lines back up and running within a week or so, but clearing the global backlog in supply chains will take much longer.

"This will take until probably 2023 to see some kind of getting back to normal," he said"

I'm in Burnaby. It was really rainy and windy for a couple days, but I haven't been meaningfully impacted so far.

For sure it was a major storm with some major impacts, but I think most people in the lower mainland weren't severely impacted.

I guess they haven't read yet on how damaged the supply chain is going to be then. This is not "we'll fix it up in a few weeks" road damage, it's more like major shipping roads in BC are going to be affected for through the worst of the winter here.

To be fair, I just found out about this literally from the link at the top of this page, a couple of hours ago. Not exactly enough time to become an expert in supply chain logistics in a province I don't even live in.

I'm reading now that there's already some stress due to displacements from the Lytton fire earlier this year, and displacements from Abbotsford, Merritt, etc are not gonna help the situation. I'm still trying to piece together the wider scope of the incident and don't yet have a good sense of what the overall damage looks like (though it increasingly looks like it isn't merely "a few key bridges happened to have flooded, it'll be fine once the water recedes" and it's more like "there are several landslides blocking roads along the route to Calgary and we're gonna be scrambling to staff the clean up efforts in time for winter").

On the one hand, you just need enough room for a truck to pass through, dirt road carved by a tractor as it might be, in order to establish a supply line. On the other hand, given that some communities barely only ever had that in the first place, I imagine many might need to figure out plan B arrangements.

Look, it's not "roads blocked". We're not talking "move the dirt and it'll be ok". The roads are GONE.

Bridges and huge sections of the most important highways are now rubble floating down rivers with nothing there anymore. This is in some of the most difficult terrain to rebuild in that you could have. People who know what they are talking about are saying we are short highways through the winter.

Here's some chopper footage: https://twitter.com/RobinMonks/status/1460690606410194949

City folks who think this was just some rain are nothing but evidence of how disconnected city people can become from the infrastructure on which they depend.

> City folks who think this was just some rain are nothing but evidence of how disconnected city people can become from the infrastructure on which they depend.

This is a really funny angle. I would think the city people are keen on how internationally connected they are as a coastal port city. Vancouver also has international access to the US. Vancouver can get goods from Seattle, Portland, SF, LA, San Diego, Alaska, Mexico, China, etc. Highways to the East and North being out won’t change this whatsoever.

Isn’t it the rural folks who live inland who are dependent on port cities and road infrastructure that goes over the passes going to be the most screwed? Which crops/goods are being shipped from central Canada to Vancouver during the winter months?

Well, we have tons of folks in Van, where it basically snows a few times a year, who have never driven the roads through the rest of the province and have no clue how bad they can get in bad weather. And I'm sure every modern city has people who have never thought about how things get in their stores.

As to your assertion that highway closures won't change other access, this is nonsense. Take away the highways and you suddenly have WAY more that needs to get in and out the other ways, so the ferries and shipping traffic gets blocked up. I don't understand how anyone can believe "we'll just go the other way" is going to work fine. We don't have extra shipping works, boats, port slots, etc just waiting for twice the load or anything.

> I don't understand how anyone can believe "we'll just go the other way" is going to work fine. We don't have extra shipping works, boats, port slots, etc just waiting for twice the load or anything.

This is _already_ the direction these goods are coming in from. These so called idiotic city folk are likely going to be just fine. They might not be able to go to Whistler or whatever to go snowboarding for a year,

Hey don't listen to me, I only lived there for 35 years. But maybe listen to some professors of supply chain management instead:


A large part of Vancouver's food comes from the Fraser Valley by truck -- through two municipalities that are now under water. The mayor of one of whom is already wondering whether farmers will be killing all their livestock.

It's a fuck of a lot worse than a cancelled snowboarding trip.

here you go, the food breakdown. Grain, meat, dairy all come into Van mostly from the east.


Thank you.

City folk in Vancouver proper are not going to be majorly affected, jobs related to the ports may have less hours but the supply chains typically starts, not terminate here. I feel for the valley and interior thou. Those areas are most definitely going to feel this for a while.

Oh wow, that's crazy. Thanks for sharing that.

That section in the Twitter link can be fixed fast is what I'm thinking but then I remember that B.C. is heavily unionized and my optimism fades.

How you managed to convert devastating footage of washed away bridges and roads into an attack on unionisation is something future historians are going to have to work very hard to explain.

If you lived there you'd understand. It's a common theme.

A constant theme among people who like to overwork and underpay their employees, yes.

It's just a chunk of freeway.

That's one section of like ten equally important road links that are in equally bad shape. That one could be fixed fast, sure, if it was the ONLY problem we were dealing with right now.

I still think it's two weeks max before those routes are passable with temporary measures even with unions.

I dunno, hope you know more about road engineering than I do. This is a section of the Coquihalla.


There's still a road to the left so that section is passsable almost immediately. They deal with mudslides and washouts fairly quickly most years. I realize though that some of these are more extensive than the past.

If you mean for just today for someone in a less-impacted area of the Lower Mainland, that's an acceptable if minimalist answer, but saying "most people" is very problematic in the light of a huge amount of evidence from primary sources.

"So while it sounds noteworthy for an entire city be technically flooded in, unless you were driving to the boonies, you're probably not actually impacted in any meaningful way."

Where do truck shipments come into Vancouver from ?

Is it all through the US/CA border ?

Isn't Vancouver a port city? I imagine there'd be more truck shipments out, eastwards towards the rest of Canada.

They should be able to continue, albeit delayed, via the US.

Should be possible to head south into Washington State and re-enter Canada at Oroville-Osoyoos.

sure, they just have to hope the north cascades highway is open when the snow-levels are already lowering from these storms. Usually that highway is closed during the winter season

I wouldn't worry about shipments into town. Suez was out for like a week and the world managed more or less just fine. LA port is backlogged to the wazoo but nobody is starving because of it. My understanding is that the Vancouver situation is only 1-2 days old so far, so there's probably not that much reason for alarm unless damage to every single artery turn out to be serious. Worst comes to worst, the US road is still open.

There's already massive waits at the port of Vancouver. Some stuff is taking a month just to be unloaded from ships waiting, and that was before this.

"The boonies", does that include Calgary? There is quite a bit of road traffic between Vancouver and Calgary via Kamloops and Banff. Or did you mean just West of the Rockies?

Sorry, "boonies" might have been a bit of a callous choice of words. Reading more about it, it sounds like the folks at Abbotsford, Hope and surrounding areas are having a pretty lousy time right now.

To me the 'boonies' in Canada is west of Timmins, East of Wawa and North of Desbarats in Ontario, and anything North of Kamloops in BC. The roads in BC are very critical infrastructure, there aren't that many of them to begin with and there are a lot of choke points on the downslopes of mountain ranges where you have to pass through, unfortunately it looks as though that's where the road outages are.

Canada is an amazing country scenery wise, but it is also a very thin veneer of civilization on top of a very rugged countryside and it doesn't take much to turn it from workable into unconnected islands overnight. Let's hope that they manage to keep the power running and some way to keep those communities supplied because with winter on the way that can get ugly really quickly.

Canadians are usually pretty self sufficient but without roads I'm not sure how that would work.

> west of Timmins

Yep. Sudbury to Kenora is some lonely road with a few “no services next 150km” stretches

When I was young and poor and crazy, I did the Greyhound trip to/from the GTA to the prairies a couple times and that is just the most insane stretch of highway ever, so mind boggling how long it takes.

Lakes and rocks and lakes and rocks and lakes and rocks and trees and rocks and lakes...

Sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, reading the entire Dune series from beginning to end, and waking up finding that you've fallen asleep and snuggled up to the nice old lady sitting next to you.

I think pbourke is talking about roads substantially North of that. There are bush roads going west from Timmins all the way to Wawa, there is absolutely nothing there but trees, and Greyhounds don't drive there, in fact the only thing you find there that drives is hunters and logging machinery.

Sudbury to Kenora is usually done by the Transcanada. But yes, I imagine the roads north from there are seriously no-mans land.

I grew up driving around the forestry roads and cutlines of the foothills in Alberta with my canoeing parents, but that is far less isolated than northern Ontario. I always find it surprising.

I'd like to live up there somewhere, but my wife isn't game to the idea.

No, I meant the trans-Canada. That’s remote enough for me :)

the whole post was callous frankly

Heh, I think they meant everywhere between Vancouver and Toronto

Wait a minute now:

I've been to Vancouver before, but I"m completely ignorant about the supply chain there.

We're talking about a metropolis of 2.5 million people. What's the impact on food supplies, fuel, etc? Very curious. Is it primarily coming up from the US???

There are two areas under discussion here. Vancouver, which goes by a bunch of different names including Metro Vancouver Regional District, is the 2.5 mil that you’re talking about. The second piece is the Fraser Valley Regional District, this is everything else east of Vancouver up to and including Hope. This is another 600k people.

FVRD is where the impacts are so far.

I mentioned in another comment that I’m in Chilliwack and gas stations are empty and grocery stores are also empty. Hoarding happened really fast today. The roads for resupply are shut down.

As far as I know, the main hubs are in MVRD, but probably not City of Vancouver proper. Nothing can get passed Abbotsford going East. There are roads past Hope that have also been destroyed (collapsed bridges and two lane roads completely gone). There might be ways to go north and around, but where I am it’s isolated on both sides.

I am visiting this area and am stuck until things are sorted out.

Previous estimates have said there could be 20-30 billion dollars in economic impact if there is a severe flood in the region.

To clarify on that last point - there is a single pumping station that is working to keep the Fraser river from turning half of the city of Abbotsford into a lake.

That station is under threat of failure, due to rising floodwaters.

If it fails, that's it. Half the town will be under ten feet of water, that has nowhere to drain. I don't mean 'nowhere to drain until next week' - I mean 'nowhere to drain, period.'

> Nowhere to drain, period

Because the Sumas Prairie, the location with the imminent threat of flooding, was originally a lake. It was drained in the 1920s to claim farm land for the Fraser Valley. This is reversion to the natural state.

The floods arent the issue the highway washed away

Doesn't this affect deliveries of needed supplies to the city? I guess the port and railways are not impacted, but I would think roads carry some significant cargo.

Some (not sure if all) railway tracks were also affected [0]. There are two tracks that go into Vancouver (CN and CP have each their own I believe), not sure if both were affected. Keep in mind that the train also works as a pipeline of sorts for the Alberta oil, and a ton of coal comes from the eastern BC border by train. And on that note, I heard speculation that the actual pipelines may have also been affected.


Pretty sure most supply chains for this part of the country usually start in Vancouver, not so much terminate. Vancouver will be fine I imagine

- If it is possible to come and go via the US, I wonder if a special allowance will be made for that

- I vaguely remember some major city in Alaska was said to have no road to the outside world? Google Maps shows a route from Anchorage to Juneau, but it goes through Canada.

Yarrow got evacuated today so even though it's not raining atm, it's not yet over.

Most of the population of Canada is within miles of the US border. For any given city, connection to the US is probably much more important than connections to other parts of Canada.

As Paul Krugman wrote, Canada is closer to the US than to itself. (<https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/13/eh/>)

Oh your brother will feel the pain when the Whole Foods on Cambie runs out of those cheap organic bananas from northern Alberta.

at some point the city might run out of things ...

You could just as easily infer from this anecdata that people that live in cities tend to be very insulated from the infrastructure and larger support systems required to maintain their way of life...

...but Everything is Fine is an equally strong conclusion.

I surprised you didn't link Kelowna's finest newspaper, Castanet: https://www.castanet.net/news/BC/351544/Mudslides-close-all-...

I love them because their reporting is terrible and the site itself is straight out of the 90's. They used to run polls that were easy to manipulate, according to a ex-coworker of mine. It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Nonetheless, everybody in Kelowna acts like Castanet is the one true source of information...

Castanet is gloriously imperfect. I hope they never change and never fade away.

It's exactly what it looks like: a hodge-podged effort by some local folks with little experience and ability among them, besides an earnest desire to report local news with a local perspective, that has stood the test of time (it launched in 2000!).

So, an outsider's perspective:

1. It loads super quick

2. The list of articles is clear and easy to scan

3. There aren't a shit ton of adverts

4. There are no bloody popups, cookie notices, donate banners, etc.

5. The entire page doesn't load, me start reading then suddenly completely greyed out with an overlay because of badly implemented 4

6. No auto-playing videos that are impossible to find to stop

If this is 90s web design that's "a train wreck in slow motion" and "gloriously imperfect", can we all go back to the 90s please?

Yeah it's more usable than 95% of the websites I visit, e.g. pretty much every news site, Reddit, etc.

To add to this, it appears to work perfectly without lifting any of my NoScript restrictions.

Is this a perspective on Castanet?

Because there is literally at least one super distracting animated GIF ad in view 100% of the time while I scroll that page (which, on my iPhone, is not exactly easily readable due to lack of responsiveness).

On the OP article I see zero ads but I think that’s possibly my PiHole kicking in (which notable fails to block any of the presumably locally hosted adds on Castanet).

I agree with some of your other points but let’s not go to far :)

The key with 90s web design is the relative absence of Javascript. There's virtually no asynchronous requests; and Castanet works fine with NoScript, most modern sites do not.

I understand where you're coming from, but I came from 90s webdev. The gift of aysnc requests was the one true credit I give MS for their contribution to moving the web forward (even if it might have been self-serving). The fact that we no longer had to do full screen refreshes to update one part of the page was glorious. It helped allow the deprecation of frames.

However, just like all good things, people decided if a little is good more would be better. This is why we can't have nice things, but it doesn't mean that the thing itself isn't nice.

This goes back to the distinction between web pages/documents (deliver immutable server-side content once, up front) and web apps (lots of back and forth with mutable data on the server). A news website should never be anything except pages, even with interactive content, but it seems almost nobody can resist the urge to treat everything like an app.

Not every website is a news site, nor is every non-newsite an app. Having a website that functions as a store front and information page so that 90% of the site is static, yet dynamically being able to add things to a cart is an example. Is that an app? But not having to do a full page refresh on a POST to add an item to a cart is glorius.

Just because the webiste in question of this thread is a newsite doesn't mean we have to throw the baby out with the bathwater because it fits this one category.

I like to think of my App as a collection of Pages. While it does "stuff" we think of implementation Page first.

Then clients say your app is fast and responsive but what they really mean is that we've not built an obese chimera.


Not only that, I didn't even have to touch NoScript - it all apparently loaded perfectly. Wow, it'd be nice if much more of the internet was like this!

and no paywall!

This site is great!

Is it just me or was Castanet some sort of Internet things besides Vancouver news?

I remember digicrime.com making fun of it. And they had all these “services” where they exploited browser problems like endless popups etc — they specifically said they don’t do spam because they can just sign you up for tons of spam and let those marketers do the work haha

Anyone remember that? (“it is now unsafe to turn on your computer”)

Castanet’s true genius is that it was founded by a guy who owned a bunch of radio stations and thus still sells advertising that way. $xxxx/mo for a rotating 250x250

How many people will see it? Mmm about this many hands outstretched as big as a salmon

The thing prints money as local businesses funnel all their advertising budgets to it.

No expectation of performance, like buying a newspaper ad lol

OTOH they seem to be hosting all their ads directly on their server, so e.g. PiHole doesn't block them.

Holy heck it looks dope, straight out of 90s. I’m surprised it works well with Safari’s Reader though.

Reader and similar plugins have it easy on 90s websites. It's the 2010s onwards you have to worry about.

It's running through Cloudflare & hcaptcha, the aesthetic may be '90s, but it doesn't mean the code is necessarily.

I actually love this site. So refreshing. Feels like a homepage put together very manually by people that really care.

Love the "Around The Web" section and how it genuinely just wants you to see a video of a cat playing piano [0]. No aggressive ad placement or fake product review schemes. Just an awesome video of a cat they wanted to share.

Edit: And it seems polling system for "How does this story make you feel?" only relies on cookies to prevent duplicate votes... So I sent them 100 votes for "Awesome"

[0] https://www.castanet.net/edition/news-story-351694-25-.htm#3...

It’s not just Kelowna, it’s the entire Okanagan valley. My mother-in-law lives in Summerland and she swears by Castanet as the one true news source.

The terrible reporting assessment is very accurate. Castanet got lucky and capitalized on a strong desire for local content and also the fact that big players did traditionally ignore the Kelowna media market. Kelowna only really became a bigger city after the Coquihalla Highway was built in 86 to 88 (in stages and Kelowna was last link) and the attitude towards it from outside media took a long time to catch up.

I can confirm that the poll is still easy to manipulate. I enjoyed and agree with all your comments about castanet.

As an American working in politics who's jacked into the daily Politico/WSJ/Twitter grind it warms my heart to briefly imagine that all Canadians get their news from quirky, local newspapers like this.

+1 for the link on their front page to a 'Tuesday Meme Dump'

Castanet, hits ya right in the feels.

wow. their website is fantastic.

One of my family members has been stuck just east of Hope, British Columbia[1] for almost two days now. There is currently no cell service, but luckily they have a Garmin inReach so we can communicate via its SMS feature.

For anybody with friends/family in the area, the BC subreddit megathread[2] on this is a good starting place to get information on evacuations, power outage status, road closures, official relevant Twitter accounts, etc.

1: https://goo.gl/maps/CXcNEUmAx8gpF5CTA

2: https://www.reddit.com/r/britishcolumbia/comments/qubkc6/flo...

That garmin is a cool toy, but pricey ($400 for the device plus $50/mo for unlimited text service). What does your family member do that they have one? It seems like the kind of thing a park ranger would have, or that someone might rent before going on a long hike in a remote area.

I live in a very rural area of the US, so I probably have an over-representative sample, but mostly folks I know who own one (myself included) view it at as an essential piece of backcountry safety equipment. If you spend 1 or 2 weekends per month in areas without cell signal (even recreationally, as is my case), it quickly becomes worthwhile even just as a means of emergency communication for people to contact _you_, not to mention the ability to call for rescue if you're unfortunate enough to have an accident where you need to be medivac'd.

How many of those people have a PS5 ($400+, depending on edition), PS4 ($400 at launch) or some flavor of Xbox ($400 or so, depending on edition). I have friends who own multiple game consoles and don't consider it unrestrained opulence that owning a Garmin Inreach supposedly represents.

>PS5 ($400+, depending on edition)

I wish.

I heard that cell phone services near NYC were down during 9/11. If a similar event that disrupted regional cell phone towers were to happen again, a garmin inreach would allow me to stay connected right? Since it's not dependent on the infrastructure near the user (and this is assuming a regional event where cell phone services are not overloaded / down in a different country, so that you can reach the 2nd party)

Assuming such a network stays available for non-emergency use, maybe.

9/11 also ended up jamming 911 and emergency responders' networks (their radios were not designed to have thousands of firefighters and police officers and ambulances concentrated in one mass event) so if something were available I'd assume they would commandeer it.

Pricey, but priceless for someone who is spending even a moderate amount of time enjoying the backcountry. In context, a typical REI-equipped backpacker is spending $100+ on boots, $200+ on a tent, $200+ on a pack, $100+ per piece of high quality outerwear, not to mention hundreds or thousands more on skis/bikes/climbing gear if they do more than just hike/backpack. When you're laying out that amount of cash just to go out and do your favorite activity, it makes sense and is fairly common to spend an additional $400 for a convenient portable distress/backcountry connectivity plan.

What does your family member do that they have one?

Goes on a hike and realizes that a lot of BC doesn't have any cell service?

I haven't used mine for an actual emergency, but it did come in handy in Yukon with an irreparable motorcycle tire. I mostly use it as a backcountry text message device to let the spouse know I'm not dead, or just general chat if I have messages left. Regardless, "long hike in a remote area" defines even a lot of day hikes in WA state, let alone the interior of BC. There probably isn't a month that goes by that I don't grab mine for one remote adventure or another.

There are still some of us who have CB radios (with all their limitations acknowledged) in our vehicles for back country emergency use, and I occasionally see mobile ham radio operators. A Garmin inReach seems like it would be a good addition.

CBs are good for the forest service roads so you know when logging trucks are coming or going.

You'll need a special VHF radio for that kind of traffic tracking on Forest Service Roads in BC, and there are specific usage patterns you must follow:


A CB radio doesn't help much with that, but it is just another means of possibly getting contact with others.

Ahhh, I remember it being possible on one of the Baofeng’s that can do almost anything.

Transmitting may require licensing, but listening should be fine.

Citizen-Band "CB" is a pretty specific type of AM radio limited to a number of defined channels around 27MHz.

Those Baofeng radios are VHF/UHF (140MHz/440MHz) FM radios, not "CB". If you had a Baofeng, and your buddy had a CB, there is no good way they would be able to communicate. These radios can operate in a wide range of frequencies with various levels of legality. But yeah in the US and Canada its generally legal to receive a transmission...other than maybe old cellular phones but that's another complicated mess.

I'm pretty sure the parent wasn't commenting on tracking CB radio, just the FSR VHF traffic I mentioned.

I think so as well, but it looks like they had their terminology confused. They used the term CB originally, then talked about using a Baofeng. I'm just pointing out that CB is something very different from VHF FM. Many lay people see a radio with a handmike and think "CB".

That's an excellent point - using the channel maps at the site I linked to above, there is nothing to stop someone with a scanner keeping informed of FSR traffic.

Just one other point: on an FSR an average person's general sense of traffic "right of way" is generally wrong and can result in some terrible accidents far from help. To wit: the bus crash involving UBC students outside Bamfield.

Pretty sure that was UVic students.

Yes, you are correct.


Said family member mentioned in the parent thread keeps a handheld radio (I don't know the exact tech specs, sorry) for such occasions. That said, they mostly use it to just listen for any logging trucks calling out checkpoints so they can avoid getting in their way when travelling to their remote campsites.

Coupled with a Garmin inReach w/ backcountry maps installed, it gives us peace of mind in case something goes wrong out in the bush.

They frequently go camping with their family in the interior of BC so they always have one for emergencies. I agree they can be pricey, but it obviously paid for itself just in this situation alone :)

I know a decent number of folks in the Washington ski/climb/do-things-in-remote-areas scene who have em, though more common is the type that doesn't let you sms and doesn't have a monthly fee (basically a please help or I'm not getting home button). That said most of my friends with inreaches don't have the unlimited sms plan, and just budget the limited number for check-ins.

For pure emergency location beacons, there's an option that does not require any monthly fees at all:


And yes, it's generally a good idea for anybody hiking in areas without cell phone reception - even if it's not particularly far out from populated areas! I live in North Bend, WA, and it feels like almost every year there's at least one hiker lost on one of the popular local trails. Sometimes they get lucky:



And sometimes they don't:



I mentally shudder every time I go hiking there, and see all the people dressed in cotton clothing and wearing street shoes (or even flip flops!) as they head towards the trail from the trailhead parking lot. Maybe there's something about well-maintained trails that promotes a false sense of security? Like, it looks neat and well-travelled, there's plenty of signage, so what could possibly go wrong? And it mostly doesn't - but when it does, it can get real bad real quick.

In Australia the authorities literally beg people not to travel in the outback without a Personal locator Beacon.

Just a few days ago a family was rescued after becoming stuck in the Simpson Desert and activating their beacon.


I don't have one personally but if I did more solo hiking in more remote areas, especially in the Western US I'd probably break down and get one. Cell service isn't dependable and I'd likely convince myself that it was cheap insurance in the grand scheme of things.

Of course, people managed for a very long time without having the ability to call for help or check in and they generally were OK with that. (And calling for help doesn't mean that Superman is going to swoop in and pick you up anyway.) But they're probably a reasonable safety aid if you're somewhere that doesn't have reliable cell service.

People also died in the back woods a lot more than they do now. There are tons of injuries that go from minor to fatal if you don’t have timely rescue. A rescue beacon or call doesn’t guarantee a good outcome, but it drastically changes the odds.

>People also died in the back woods a lot more than they do now.

That certainly could be true although I suspect a lot of people are also less prepared/careful today because they assume they can just call for help. And then they end up with a dead battery, no cell reception, or conditions are just such that rescue is delayed.

That said, a cell phone probably should be on your "10 things to carry" list these days. And I could certainly be convinced that an inReach-like things should be too if you're regularly off by yourself in areas without a lot of people.

Also, more people are in the back woods these days for recreational purposes rather than pure necessity, which also confounds the numbers. The relationship between safety gear and risk taking attitudes seems to be relatively complicated, and none of the sources I’ve read have managed to pin down whether or not safety equipment reliably produced more risk taking behavior.

Still, if I was in the habit of going further afield than your typical day hiker, or lived in a remote area, I think a rescue beacon would be a minimum requirement. An inReach gives you rescue functionality and GPS, so it’s kind of a win win.

The rumors of a satellite enabled iPhone might change this calculus again. Time will tell on that one.

Even for a typical day hikers these things can save lives. It's surprisingly common for people to get lost a couple hundred yards off the trail, and even remain close to the trail even as they wander around all lost. This can easily happen on a day hike.

Compared to when? It's not like hiking is some new fad.

Certain recreational activities are in fact new as hobbies, at least at scale. Skiing, mountaineering, and camping were once things you did out of necessity, not for funsies.

For example, our records for recreational skiing stretch back basically 300 years. Mountaineering has been done practically forever, but as a mass hobby it’s also basically 250 or so years old. The idea that you’d do it for fun rather than as a spiritual quest or to catch a lost sheep is a fairly new idea.

Hiking is a bit more debatable. Humans have walked on local trails for practical and recreational purposes forever. Some European trails are clearly very old, so that’s hardly new. But I think the idea of backpacking deep into the woods for fun has exploded in popularity over the past century, and certainly got a huge kick in the pants with the creation of the national park system.

Well, whether we mean the past century or the basically the entire existence of the United States, it's certainly much older than the GPS devices we're talking about, which was the sort of timeframe I had in mind when I said it is not a "fad." If we mean a couple hundred years then we could also call driving a car newfangled and faddish.

Here is one set of stats showing significant growth in hiking from 2006 through 2019: https://www.statista.com/statistics/191240/participants-in-h...

This is consistent with other data I've seen.

> But I think the idea of backpacking deep into the woods for fun has exploded in popularity over the past century

Have you heard about Robin Hood? ;D

Yes, but that actually somewhat reinforces my general point if you think about it. Robin Hood hid in the woods because that’s where the power of the state couldn’t reach him. The legend tips it’s hat to the general understanding that deep forests were effectively stateless territory beyond the reach of the law.

For most of human history untamed woods and mountains have been dangerous, unordered places. This is where political dissidents, bandits, and runaway slaves have gone specifically because they’re not places that most people wanted to go given the choice. That’s why the legend of Robin Hood had him there rather than in a safe house in London.

Living in the woods was for bandits. But it's not obvious that the idea was less popular then than now -- one of the earliest references to Robin Hood is just a complaint that the stories are so popular they're damaging the spiritual fabric of society.

I don't think we could really describe living in the woods as hiking.

The difference between living in the woods and backpacking through the woods is that when backpacking you don't expect to forage for your own food - you bring it in with you.

There is otherwise no difference; backpacking and hiking are separate activities.

Pre-COVID many outdoor recreational activities as measured by stats like national park visits were up. (Some others like skiing I believe were down.) But without digging up a lot numbers, the parent's basic point squares with my understanding.

You can buy them used for cheaper, and pay $15/mo when you need it (backpacking trips, etc) and pause the service the rest of the time. The preset messages are unlimited across all plans.

They're super common now for backcountry hikers and trail runners. The plans start at $15 a month on a per-month plan (no lock in).

There has been speculation that Apple would build this into their phones, which IMHO would be a killer feature. Imagine having an emergency feature that could be used anywhere on earth. How much would you pay per text? $5 per text message would be an absolute bargain in many of these remote locations.

> There has been speculation that Apple would build this into their phones

I'm not sure how... the InReach (and similar products) are a Iridium satellite communication system that requires a bit more heft in the signal (up and down).

When you look at the iridium phones ( https://www.iridium.com/product-type/satellite-phones/ ) those aren't small things (look at the antennas).

Then you've got:

> Enhanced Battery Life Up to (4) hours of talk time, (30) hours of standby

for a non-smart phone.

I'm not sure how Apple would be able to incorporate a "no cell phone tower in sight" system... without also packing on the rest of the iridium system and making a much more bulky device.

There are a number of providers that have been purporting to be on the edge of offering Satellite coverage to existing cellphones:

- https://ast-science.com/spacemobile/

- https://lynk.world

The former even inked a partnership with AT&T and Vodafone: https://www.lightreading.com/ossbss/vodafone-atandt-sign-up-...

It looks like they've even successfully tested it: https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/29/lynk-demos-global-satellit...

This would likely be a very high-cost option, but it does seem to be possible. The key is that these satellites are much closer to earth than Iridium, I guess.

Garmin inReach devices are very small. They only support messaging, not voice phone calls, so the antennas are short and battery life is pretty good. It could be completely possible to integrate that functionality into a large smartphone.

When there was speculation before the consensus seemed to be it was unlikely for technical reasons.

Also, while sure it would be nice if something were a no/low-cost add-on to a regular smartphone, the average consumer probably wouldn't pay much extra, much less an incremental subscription fee. And there's something to be said for a rugged, potentially safety-critical, standalone device that's separate from your phone.

I would absolutely pay for this feature and it will be enough of differentiator for me to pick specific phone model. I live close to major metro area and I do not have cell connection on a regular basis starting from ski resort with spotty connection (does not work at all on some runs) to walk (not even hike) in the closest state park. Ability to use Messenger withtout cell is easily $200-300 feature I would pay for.

On antenna - you can probably build purpose-specific satellites for text messaging that does not require big antenna. Iridium is 485miles high orbit - you can probably have satellites at closer to 150-200 miles elevation

You don’t have to be particularly intense to find value in a full fledged GPS. We just do a lot of day hikes and a few overnighters, and the 64st ($300-400) has been immensely valuable. Considering that the inreach eliminates the need for a separate rescue beacon, that’s a cost and weight savings. If you’re even more marginally intense than I, one of these is less a toy and more a life saving necessity.

Dedicated GPS units are faster, more reliable, and easier to keep going in the field than your phone. You’ll never have them display a blank square because you lost LTE and it didn’t buffer that map segment. A lot of them will also record your hikes for overlay onto Google Earth later, which is nice. I personally have a large number of the local hot springs recorded into mine, which is very important when they’re off road and off trail.

Not saying dedicated units are not useful, but there are local-only mapping applications for smartphones, too. OsmAnd is a good example, it uses OpenStreetMap data which can be downloaded to local storage (by region). It supports local-only driving/walking/transit directions, too.

I’ve generally found the GPS only resolution of my phone to be greatly inferior to my Garmin. In cities cell phones depend heavily on cell towers to boost GPS resolution. Out in the back woods this difference becomes more stark.

I can also keep a GPS running longer with less power. My 64st will last an entire day on two NiMH batteries, and it takes less available power to charge. Cell phones do a lot more, but that “more” comes at a cost of energy consumption.

It’s too bad google offline maps only supports driving directions.

For hiking specifically, OsmAnd is what you'd want anyway:


You can download as many offline maps as you want (the entire US can fit quite easily on modern phones), you get offline pathfinding, and offline maps have elevation contour lines and hill shading. The maps themselves are also much more detailed compared to Google or Apple when it comes to hiking trails.

Most of these smart phone apps are pretty bad at providing even driving directions in the back country. Plenty of times I’ve had either Apple or Google fail to recognize a forest service road, which I presume is in a freely available file somewhere, and tell me to park and walk miles to the trailhead. I’ve learned the hard lesson to have a backup plan just for navigating to the trailhead, let alone once I’m on the trail.

This gets back to whether the road in question is something you should direct the average smartphone user down given that they'll probably blindly follow the instructions. In many cases, the answer is no. If they know (or tink they know what they're doing), they can make their own decisions.

I'd actually much rather a smartphone routing algorithm err on the side of caution in this regard.

That’s a really good point that I’ve never thought about. Some of the roads I’ve driven on were very much in the “you know what your ground clearance is, right?” category. It’s probably for the best that Apple and google don’t blindly send people that way.

when you're stranded in the tundra and the garmin is your only contact to civilization, it's the smartphone that's a toy

I own one because I backpack and frequently go quite deep in the back country (err, at least I used to before having children, but I intend to get back out there once they're a little bit older).

There are several areas within 5-10 miles of Apple's Cupertino HQ that have no cell service - the nearby mountains lead to valleys where I assume it's not economical to install cell towers.

I was in both Napa and Point Reyes a couple weeks back and the AT&T cell reception was pretty hit or miss. Heck, I'm about 45 miles west of Boston and the cell reception at my house is at least variable.

>What does your family member do that they have one?

They live in Canada, at least those parts of it that makes this a necessity rather than a luxury.

Backpacking, through-hiking, etc

The Reddit thread seems to be largely given over to speculation about the complete collapse of society globally which is, in my opinion, getting just a little bit carried away and anyway not really informative.

I mean yes, but when your province experiences over a 4 month period:

* Record heat wave * Record forest fires * Record rainfall * Tornadoes for the first time in history * And now record flooding

It's hard not to feel a little apocalyptic.

Especially while most of the people in charge and seemingly 60% of the voters still want to hand-wave these away as one-offs, and unusual, ignoring the trend or the density of unusual/record event.

I think things can get a lot worse without portending "Mad Max"-style scenarios.

Yeah, I noticed that a bit, too. I originally meant the megathread post itself. I try not to read too many comments in such threads on Reddit; regardless of the topic ;)

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