Last year around this time Toronto City Councillor Michael Walker began touting one of the most asinine policies to ever emanate from City Hall when he proposed a rule that would ban downtown deliveries during the morning and afternoon rush hours.
“We’re having constant gridlock downtown and trucks that are sitting in the road idling, create backups of cars and other trucks on the major streets,” Walker said, adding any delivery trucks in the downtown core between 7-10 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. would be towed under his plan.
Business organizations (including the Ontario Trucking Association) were quick to throw water on the fire, pointing out the obvious flaws with Walker’s proposal. But it appears Councillor Walker is back at it, attempting to once again ban trucks from downtown during rush hour, despite the fact a city committee quashed the same proposal last year. He wants the city to conduct a pilot project to see how a downtown truck ban during rush hour would pan out.
“Those vehicles contribute a lot to gridlock and do a lot of idling, and both of those contribute significantly to smog and to global warming,” Walker told local media yesterday. “It’s not a solution on its own but it’s a piece of the puzzle. These trucks are queuing up to get into the garages, but they could do it at night.”
One of the major flaws with Walker’s proposal is that many businesses don’t have staff available to receive shipments after hours. Adding the necessary staff would be extremely costly for small businesses. While Walker admits that’s an issue, he brushed it off saying “If we’re not prepared to make that type of investment…we’ve got a problem.”
As OTA chief David Bradley pointed out in a letter to the city last year, trucking companies don’t determine pickup and delivery times. Those schedules are established by downtown businesses – many of which are simply not adequately staffed to ship or receive goods at night.
The impact of Walker’s proposal on small business is obvious. The cost of extra staffing will be resisted strongly by small business owners. But what of the extra costs to trucking companies themselves? Making the same number of deliveries in a smaller window of time will not be feasible. Instead, companies will be forced to hire more drivers and add additional trucks. Efficiency will be hindered substantially and shipping costs will escalate as a result – again costing small businesses. Perhaps Walker (whose ward does not fall into the area his proposed ban would entail) should redirect his efforts towards reducing car traffic from downtown streets.
After all, as Bradley pointed out, there are no freight rail lines running into the Eaton Center. But you can take a subway there.
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