columbia basin studyDTCI was engaged by the Columbia Basin Trust to conduct a Regional Shipping and Logistics Analysis to identify constraints and challenges to efficient logistics operations and make recommendations for improvements. The project was undertaken in collaboration with Darryl Anderson of Wave Point Consulting Ltd. and Steve Hayto of S5 Services.

The Columbia Basin Trust was created by the Columbia Basin Trust Act (British Columbia) in 1995 to benefit the region most adversely affected by the Columbia River Treaty (CRT), in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The Trust serves the region consisting of all the watersheds that flow into the Columbia River in Canada, encompassing 76,147 square km in the southeast corner of British Columbia, and extending north as far as Valemount on the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16).

The project team undertook extensive consultations with businesses and other agencies within the Columbia Basin. An online Transportation and Logistics Survey of businesses was undertaken to gather information about their current shipping practices and challenges. Three hundred and eighteen businesses participated in the survey, providing a broad overview of the current state of freight logistics and the challenges facing firms in managing their supply chains.

Challenges to efficient logistics in the region include a relatively low population density, long distances from major urban centres, and mountainous terrain and variable climate. The results of the analysis and the survey findings strongly suggest that existing businesses have aligned their operations to the strengths of the transport and logistics system that serves the region. Among those businesses that have developed a strategy, shippers employ a variety of best practices such as consolidating shipments to reduce transportation costs, collaborating with other shippers, bulk purchases from a single supplier, the use of freight brokers to obtain lower rates, warehousing, and other solutions. In general, the transport and logistics system was not found to unduly restrict businesses’ ability to scale their operations and growth.

Specific areas for improvement were identified, including cold chain logistics and courier services and recommendations for potential initiatives for improvements in regional logistics services were provided. The full study report is available on the Columbia Basin trust website.