01/07/2015 00:27 EST | Updated 03/08/2015 05:59 EDT

Small trucking companies say they're hurting under new Port Metro Vancouver licensing rules

More than 80 small trucking companies say they're on the verge of being put out of business by new reforms to the licensing fees at Port Metro Vancouver.

Instead of paying a $300 licensing fee to the port, truck operators now have to pay an annual company fee that starts at $35,000 for up to 15 trucks. That means some owners who own only one or two trucks may have to merge with others.

"We can't afford this," said Chandra Nand, who has been driving a truck for over 30 years.

The new fees stem from a truck driver strike last spring that crippled Port Metro Vancouver and left hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cargo stranded at container terminals.

At the time, truckers raised issues of rate undercutting and long wait times.

Port Metro Vancouver says the new licensing system will address some of the issues by balancing the number of registered trucks with the amount of available work.

There are currently about 2,000 trucks currently servicing Port Metro Vancouver, but it is looking to reduce that number by 500 to 700. 

Port Metro Vancouver's Greg Rogge said the new licensing structure will bring stability to the industry.

"We've identified that there are simply too many trucks in the system for the amount of work that exists right now," he said.  

"It's necessary because the costs of running the operation are much greater than they were, but also as a result of new legislation brought in by the province there's a compliance program, there's a new commissioner office, there's auditing."

But drivers such as Nand say there has been no direction on how the new fees should be implemented by the truck drivers. 

"What they're basically saying, 'oh you give up or you go and merge with another company' and they're not very clear how we're gonna go about doing that."  

Truck drivers have until the end of January to comply with new rules.