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Lifted bylaw gets logging trucks rolling through town again

CHALK RIVER, Ont. - A controversial bylaw restricting logging trucks from this village's Main Street is expected to be lifted soon, following months of procedural wrangling at the municipal level.The ...


ROLLING AGAIN: Laurentian Hills' public works superintendent expects to see more loaded trucks on Chalk River's Main St.
ROLLING AGAIN: Laurentian Hills' public works superintendent expects to see more loaded trucks on Chalk River's Main St.

CHALK RIVER, Ont. – A controversial bylaw restricting logging trucks from this village’s Main Street is expected to be lifted soon, following months of procedural wrangling at the municipal level.

The village, located halfway between Ottawa and North Bay on the Trans-Canada Highway, is part of the recently amalgamated municipality of Laurentian Hills. Although amalgamation between Chalk River and a group of four townships took place two years ago, Laurentian Hills council members are still trying to make sense of some of the bylaws from the former municipalities.

A bylaw passed by Chalk River council in 1991, is one such piece of their puzzle. It has effectively prohibited fully loaded logging trucks from travelling down the village’s Main Street.

Ann Swift was a member of municipal council when the bylaw was passed, and she recalls that its creation was prompted mainly by concerns over the state of the asphalt roadway. “There isn’t a lot of base there. It’s all sand,” Swift said recently.

She also noted that safety issues were also behind the bylaw’s creation, noting that the village’s playground abuts Main Street. “There’s no stop signs along there to slow them down,” Swift says.

The use of safety concerns as a motivator is suspect, however, considering that the 1991 bylaw has allowed logging trucks to travel down Main Street when they’re not carrying any loads.

Chalk River’s Main Street is about 1.5 kilometres long, and straight, intersecting the Trans-Canada Highway at one end and the Wylie Road at the other.

Chalk River’s restrictive bylaw has spelled trouble for logging truckers from its inception, however, because when they bring their loads out of the nearby Bronson, the loggers are forced to travel westward along Wylie Road and access the highway in Deep River, where they turn east, travelling through Chalk River en route to the mills a half-hour down the Trans-Canada.

Steve Stewart, whose family firm has been hauling logs out of the Bronson for generations, estimates the round-about way to get past Chalk River adds an extra 20 minutes onto each trip his drivers make.

“Anytime you get any hindrances in the trucking business it gives you a little grief,” Stewart points out.

Their problems are compounded during the winter months, when they are Deep River-bound down the Wylie, because they must descend an extremely steep hill, at the bottom of which lies a set of railway tracks – the same tracks which cross Chalk River’s Main Street on a level straight-away.

“It’s especially bad in the wintertime when you’re on that hill going down to the tracks,” Stewart says.

The municipality couldn’t agree more with Stewart’s contention that the rule should be revisited.

Laurentian Hills council members set out in December to lift the weight restriction bylaw.

The revised version of the draft bylaw, which was at press time to be passed in February, will treat Main Street just like any other road in the municipality. Fully loaded logging trucks and the like will be able to travel on it, except when conditions in late winter and spring dictate otherwise, at which time Boucher and crew will post half-load signs.


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