TORONTO, Ont. – Toronto Councillor Michael Walker says trucks should be banned from downtown Toronto during rush hour.
The councillor said the ban would prevent trucks from blocking lanes during peak traffic times.
“Fines are a cost of doing business downtown,” he told local media. “This way it will work – because you’re not allowed to do it, we’ll tow.”
He said trucks should be banned from making deliveries between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays.
“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. Walker’s own North Toronto ward (Ward 22, St. Paul’s), wouldn’t be included in the proposed year-long ban. The current plans would introduce the ban from Jarvis St. to Spadina Rd., Bloor St. south to the lake.
“Quite frankly, you don’t have the kinds of gridlock (in Ward 22 that they do further downtown). Start somewhere and then keep expanding the area, if it works. Ultimately, we should look at prohibiting truck deliveries throughout the whole day,” he said.
The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) wasted no time in responding to the proposal.
OTA president David Bradley was quick to point out that trucks serving the downtown core must do so while there’s a shipper or consignee to hand off or receive the goods.
“If there was a way that trucks could avoid having to make pick-ups and deliveries during the periods of highest traffic congestion, we would do so. The costs of congestion are enormous for the trucking industry. All our trucks have lights on them,” Bradley said. “Delivery schedules are not established by the trucking industry. Our customers – in this case the businesses located in the downtown core – dictate when and where our trucks pick-up and deliver goods. The problem is, and has always been, that few businesses in the core are 24/7 enterprises. They need to be convinced to take on the additional cost of having staff available to receive or load goods during off-peak times.”
Bradley urged City Council to instead explore ways to decrease the amount of commuter traffic in downtown Toronto.
“The major contributors to congestion are not the trucks – it is cars, many of which are occupied by a sole person,” Bradley points out. “It would seem to us that with all the new investment in transit – which is supposedly designed to get people out of their cars – a reasonable alternative exists for most of these motorists. No such alternative exists, however, for the businesses that rely on trucks to deliver goods. There are, for example, no rail lines running into the Eaton Centre.”
Toronto City Council has since voted to refer the motion to the Works Committee for public input and deputations. The motion failed to get a 2/3 vote to bypass committee consideration.
Bradley wrote a letter to Walker, the mayor and all members of council and the OTA reported that a number of councillors responded to the letter favourably.
Officials from the association also said that though they’re pleased with the council’s decision, they still fear the possibility of the initiative being enacted. The OTA plans to make a strong presentation to the committee when the hearings are held.