Municipalities need to be more truck-friendly, conference told

BRAMPTON, Ont. – Municipalities should work with the trucking industry to attract business investment and jobs to their communities.

That was a message from Stephen Laskowski, president of the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA), when speaking today to the Greater Golden Horseshoe Municipal Network, the Southern Ontario Gateway Council and the Peel Goods Movement Task Force. The groups were hosting their second annual Moving Goods and People conference, aimed at exploring new and better ways to accommodate the more efficient movement of goods and people.

As an example, Laskowski said enlightened regions such as Peel are promoting the use of long combination vehicles (LCVs) in their area to attract business development.

“They are using the LCV network in this province to attract distribution centers to come to their region, saying ‘We’re open for business, we’ll work with you.’ The Region of Peel gets it. Some big regions don’t work with the trucking industry and don’t work with shippers and I’d say they’re missing out on investment, they’re missing out on jobs – and for no good reason, other than politics,” Laskowski said.

He said this lack of collaboration in some regions is also evident when roundabouts or truck routes are designed without the trucking industry’s input.

“There is nothing more maddening for our membership operating in your regions and municipalities than when you develop a truck route without the involvement of the industry,” he said.

Laskowski also spoke out against the movement by some municipalities to require commercial vehicles to be equipped with sideguards to protect cyclists and pedestrians. It’s an impractical solution, he suggested.

“Sideguards do not work,” he said. He pointed out new GHG regulations will soon require trailers to be fitted with aerodynamic side fairings, which are not compatible with additional sideguards. “Sideguards and that mandate don’t coincide.”

Laskowski also touched on autonomous vehicles, noting while semi-autonomous technology is rapidly advancing, the driver won’t be replaced anytime soon.

“It’s about helping make vehicles safer, it’s not about eliminating drivers,” he said of semi-autonomous trucking technologies. “We have a driver shortage and will continue to have a driver shortage. Mandatory Entry-Level Training is coming to the trucking industry and that’s our solution to the driver shortage – improving the quality of drivers – not autonomous vehicles.”

David Turnbull, president and CEO of the Canadian Courier and Logistics Association (CCLA), also spoke to municipal leaders, calling on them to become more delivery-friendly. He noted the idea that only urgent letters travel by courier is outdated, and pointed out hospitals and blood donor clinics receive everything from medication to human organs by courier.

“Accommodating growth requires better planning in all urban locations, particularly downtown locations,” he said. “We don’t want our region to become uncompetitive, so it’s important we make express deliveries easy to deliver.”

A lack of parking in urban areas is a major concern, Turnbull noted, especially when tickets are doled out while drivers make their deliveries. This happens more in Toronto than any other city, he added.

“As long as the driver is in the proximity of his vehicle, he’s legally stopped to make a delivery. As soon as he starts to go through the door to enter the premises, he is illegally parked and he’s ticketed in many cases,” Turnbull said.

He credited the City of Toronto for creating a number of courier delivery zones, however he said that potential fix fell short as most were located outside the financial district, where the need is greatest. He would like to see more installed downtown, similar to the bus bays that can be found on busy streets.

“A typical courier delivery takes about six to seven minutes,” he said. “We’re not talking about vehicles parking for hours and hours.”

Greg Kraliz, national transportation manager with Nestle, echoed the need for better truck access in urban areas.

“Every month, I get a handful of parking tickets from a distributor saying, ‘If you’re not going to cover the cost of this, I can’t deliver to your stores’,” Kraliz said. “It’s time to look at how we can improve truck loading access.”

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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