VANKLEEK HILL, Ont. - As Canada's truckers struggle through a shortage of highway facilities equipped to properly meet their needs, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) seems to be doing every...
VANKLEEK HILL, Ont. – As Canada’s truckers struggle through a shortage of highway facilities equipped to properly meet their needs, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) seems to be doing everything it can to exacerbate the problem.
Herb Vink was all set to make a grand splash with his newly-renovated truck stop on the 417 between Ottawa and Montreal. That is, until the MTO declared Exit 27 to Herb’s Restaurant closed for five months and detoured 10km of traffic away from his facility as of Apr. 22.
“The closure creates a 16-km detour to access our service and get back on the road,” says Herb. Not only does he find the temporary route ridiculous, he says, “They are trying to use my signs to direct people through the detour. But I won’t let them. Vehicles will come through the detour once, but they will never come back again. It is unacceptable.”
Vink, whose father by the same name built Herb’s Restaurant in 1977, wasted no time in getting help from local politician Jean Marc Lalonde in getting the message across to Minister of Transport Norm Sterling that the closure is an unacceptable threat to his livelihood.
He’s also complained to Ken Williams (613-545-4754), the MTO’s manager of engineering for the Eastern Region.
Aside from seriously disrupting his business, Vink says, “We’re a main hub for ambulances and other emergency services.
“Their standby location is here. And when the tourists start coming along, it is going to be a major safety problem,” he adds.
Despite all this it’s the timing of the closure that really stinks.
Vink spent almost a full year completely renovating the landmark red and white-striped facility and doubling the floor space.
Herb’s now offers not only the latest 24/7 services, but is the only business catering to the special requirements of the trucking industry between Ottawa and Montreal; Herb’s is at the midpoint between the two centres – as well as the the midpoint on the Cornwall-Mirabel runs.
Hwy. 34 passes right in front of his doors.
His new convenience store and restaurant has an open concept like Truck Stop of America (TA). The card lock is almost ready, Vink says.
“The fuel concept is going to be like the Flying J, which is card lock or self-serve cash.”
There is room in the parking lot for 25 rigs. Inside, truckers can watch TV in their own lounge and use two sets of washers and dryers to clean their duds. There are three showers. There’s also Herb’s five-bay 417 Truck Centre next door.
When Vink first contacted the MTO, he says the response amounted to the standard brush-off: “It’s your problem, not ours,” he relays.
So far, adds Herb, “All they’ve done is protect their asses, but I think the ideology is slowly changing as the problem progresses. Even the chief of police is behind us. The local mayor and MPs are behind us.”
By the time Truck News went to press the problem hadn’t been resolved, but Vink says, “It doesn’t look good.”
The cards could fall one of two ways: The MTO immediately promises to make a temporary exit so he can get his customers back, or he goes ahead with a major demonstration designed to rattle some chains.
“You know how I look at it? I say, they made a big mistake. Now all they have to do is fix it. Now!”