Ayr, Ont. residents seek relief as trucks squeeze into downtown core

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The residents of a small town in western Ontario fed up with trucks squeezing into their tiny downtown streets want the heavy commercial vehicles banned or diverted from the area.

Ayr resident Jeff Gilchrist told TruckNews.com that the trucks cannot make these turns safely on the narrow streets without driving on sidewalks or traffic having to back up to let them through. He added that trucks have also damaged the cenotaph at the corner of Northumberland and Stanley streets.

“This is dangerous,” he said. “The drivers honk and yell at us to back up. One guy told me ‘You should appreciate us more’.”

Two trucks on a narrow Ayr road.
A truck rolls by on the wrong side of a narrow two-way street to pass a parked commercial vehicle in downtown Ayr, Ont. (Photo: Jeff Gilchrist)

Region of Waterloo councillor Kari Williams has tabled a motion to be considered next week on the planning and public works agenda to study solutions, including a truck ban in the downtown area.

“I’ve seen the damage to both trucks and infrastructure. It isn’t safe for pedestrians or for truck drivers if they can’t make the turns,” she said. The study would help both residents and the trucking industry that services the area’s farms and gravel pits.

Damage to infrastructure

Williams’ motion notes that there have been numerous safety issues, disruptions to businesses and residents, physical damages to township infrastructure that include a monument, roads, sidewalks, and utility poles, as well as damage to the trucks.

It adds that there is limited space for large vehicles of varying types to navigate downtown Ayr as well as limited areas to stop and park.

Truck wheels on the sidewalk
A truck commercial vehicle uses the sidewalk to make a tight turn on street in Ayr, Ont. (Photo: Jeff Gilchrist)

Williams wants the region’s staff to consult citizens and businesses and explore interim measures such as posting signage warning oversized vehicles of the limitations of the downtown route using Swan Street, Stanley Street and Northumberland Street, speed reductions in high traffic pedestrian areas, and work with local industry to ensure communication to provide information to truck drivers of the limitations of the area.

Residents planning to move from town

Gilchrist has been living in the small town for a year but is ready to move. “I just bought this house. I’m going to finish my renovation and we’re probably going to sell the house because of this.”

He added some of his neighbors are also planning to move. The sounds of trucks hitting the curb or the median keep him awake in the middle of the night. He estimates more than 500 to 600 trucks go through the downtown core every day.

Williams added that residents are okay with smaller trucks making local deliveries, but in the past couple of years the number of bigger and heavier commercial vehicles are driving through the town. She said there are better routes for trucks that might take a couple of extra minutes to drive.

The region’s planning and works meeting is set for April 24.

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Leo Barros is the associate editor of Today’s Trucking. He has been a journalist for more than two decades, holds a CDL and has worked as a longhaul truck driver. Reach him at leo@newcom.ca

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  • It’s a shame that Township council moved the cenotaph in downtown Ayr to make it more difficult for trucks to navigate through the village! Has everyone forgotten that already?

  • Ayr isn’t that tight of a town for a truck. I’ve been through Ayr many times in a transport truck with zero problems. The issue is the quality of truckers on the roads. Someone that actually knows how to drive a truck and has some courtesy for the people that live there don’t have an issue. I highly doubt the number of trucks they claim go through that town on a daily basis and you barely see any trucks at night going through as well. Cars could learn to be courteous and leave space for us truckers to do our maneuvers. Ayr residents have been known for years to be whiny about truck traffic. Truck News just helped them get more publicity and wrote an article painted in a bad light towards the trucking industry.

  • I live near Ayr and I do not think there 500 0r 600 hundred trucks a day going into the downtown core. May 100 is more like it. They need to do a traffic count on CMVs in downtown Ayr

  • I have lived in Ayr my entire life (50yrs) and grew up in a trucking family. I myself am a truck driver (30yrs) and have seen the increase in traffic. I can attest to the frustration of travelling through downtown Ayr. The truck drivers are no happier about being there than the car drivers are. The biggest problem is the lack of courtesy and common sense of the people driving their cars through the area. When cars are lined up to make the corners they just keep pulling ahead even when they see the truck waiting to make the turn. The biggest part of the traffic issue is the addition of 1,000 plus new homes on the south side of town and all the people that live there that need to get to the north side of town to access the 401 or travel to Kitchener. Before there is a complete ban on trucks through town there needs to be an acceptable alternate route established and cooperation with neighbouring counties. Maybe before the next subdivision is built there could be a plan in place for the additional traffic and a truck route. Like usual, poor planning has resulted in a problem that people want solved right now.
    As far as the trucks passing on narrow streets, that is a total non issue. The picture submitted is an isolated case where I’m sure the truck on the right was broke down for some reason and the driver was probably trying to do all he could to get out of town and pull over in a more appropriate place.
    Also, as for the 500-600 trucks/day travelling through town I think that is a completely ridiculous number. A traffic study would surely give a more accurate number. I recently spent two hours downtown Ayr on a Tues from 1pm-3pm. On that particular day there were five trucks that went through Ayr. One was a FedEx tractor trailer and the other four were gravel tractor trailers. Those four trucks each made 4-5 trips through town. As you can see in the pictures that were submitted by Mr Gilchrist, every truck was a gravel truck. Our town is surrounded by gravel pits and farms, with that comes trucks. Maybe better planning by the people that are collecting all the tax dollars from these industries could have a better outcome for everybody involved! Maybe the “planning committee” could use a truck driver involved to help create an acceptable alternative for trucks to bypass downtown instead of a complete ban.

  • Problem is that trucks were half the size they are today when these little towns were incorporated.