Truck News


Voice of the O/O: City bylaws Part 1

As Canadian road infrastructure issues take centre stage along with hours of service, cross-border security and the like, it's inevitable that improvements to municipal and city infrastructure will co...

As Canadian road infrastructure issues take centre stage along with hours of service, cross-border security and the like, it’s inevitable that improvements to municipal and city infrastructure will come complete with revisions to bylaws intended to complement this progress.

In other words, if you think you’re having trouble now finding a suitable access route to make a delivery, or a place to park your truck to get a night’s rest or grab a quick bite of lunch, then you might want to prepare yourself for a wake-up call!

More likely than not, over the next decade, bylaws pertaining to commercial vehicle access to most Canadian cities will become substantially more restrictive than they are now.

As truckers, we find it difficult to square how adequate and acceptable changes to commercial vehicle traffic bylaw legislation might co-exist with the anticipated increased demand for trucking services.

Many truckers will argue that governments, even at the local level, are unsympathetic to the negative impact many of these control measures have on our industry.

Opinions run rampant that bylaw legislation and enforcement, conveniently disguised as orderly commercial vehicle control, are nothing more than a discriminatory cash grab designed to boost city revenues.

Out on the road, as you near your daily legal limit of on-duty hours and begin to consider your options for a mandatory eight hours off-duty in the sleeper berth, the issue of woefully inadequate rest areas along this country’s highways looms large.

And it’s no better on the roadways surrounding any metropolitan area. If you’re in or near a city or municipality when you’re about to run out of hours, you can expect to encounter restrictive access and parking bylaws – even for brief periods of time within industrial parks – to further complicate your decision of where to “hang your hat” for the next eight hours or so. I must confess that all of this sounds fairly discriminatory at first glance!

There have been a few occasions during my career where I can recall having “run-ins” with municipal bylaw enforcement officials.

One though, stands out in my mind above all others. Incidentally, the city in question had realized huge industrial and population growth over a relatively short period of time, and was one whose commercial vehicle bylaws were somewhat modest, previous to the period of substantial growth.

After finding my way through the bureaucracy of city hall and getting the chief bylaw enforcement officer on the phone, among the questions I asked was what justification the city had for going from very little bylaw legislation to what many truckers consider excessive. I was absolutely shocked by his response!

The officer replied, “The trucking community in our area has not indicated to us at any time that we are excessive in our endeavours to maintain adequate commercial vehicle control within city limits.”

And he added, “If your people feel there is room for improvement, we at city hall would certainly be happy to arrange a time for discussion regarding your concerns.”

He also indicated that no other individual had expressed such concerns to his office in the past.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I see opportunity to affect change written all over this incident.

And yet, bizarre as it seems, although I’d been listening to innumerable objections from other truckers over time, I was the first to file an official complaint on the matter with this particular city.

Clearly, this city indicated its willingness to better understand how government and industry can work through their differences, and perhaps it’s not the only one. But we’ll never know the degree of flexibility municipalities are willing to demonstrate unless we call them to the table.

Remaining pessimistic with the attitude that “nothing can be done,” and dismissing an opportunity to achieve some level of progress is not an alternative we should consider.

This is a perfect example of the important role OBAC’s provincial caucus groups can play: addressing municipal commercial vehicle bylaws, and a whole host of other regional concerns that affect us daily.

We’re also building alliances with sector-specific groups such as logging and aggregate haulers, among others.

Remaining close to the issues of local and specialized segments of the industry allows us to play a role regionally – while speaking with an effective voice on issues of common concern on a national stage.

At the same time, we’re gaining strength as a results-oriented organization that’s responsive to the needs of truck drivers across the country.

Ours is a proven, effective structure, well suited to deal with issues both large and small.

We’ll be asking a few cities for their perspective on bylaws as they relate to commercial vehicles. Watch for Part II of this column in the next issue where we’ll tell you what they have to say about the matter.

– Don Robertson, a working driver, is vice-president of OBAC. He can be reached at

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