Pandemic slows Caledon’s fight against illegal truck yards

An Ontario town besieged by illegal truck parking yards is fighting back, but the pandemic has slowed down the legal process adding to the frustration of residents.

“Covid has made things restrictive. Our ability to get them to court, to charge them has lots of challenges,” said Allan Thompson, mayor of the Town of Caledon.

“We are caught up in the courts, it is backlogged. I wish we could do virtual court hearings, so we can get moving. We have been asking our judicial officials to please expedite this,” he said.

A sign on Mayfield Road in Caledon posted close to truck parking yards identified as illegal by town officials. (Photo: Leo Barros)

Caledon sits atop the Region of Peel – the province’s trucking heartland. The lure of cheaper property prices and big lots has proven attractive to truck and business owners.

Small-scale trucking company owners living in Brampton had to pay a lot of money to park their vehicles in the area and nearby Etobicoke, said Deepak Punj, a radio host and realtor. He said they sold their homes years ago and bought large properties in Caledon. “They are saving on parking costs. Now they are moving to the town of Mono and even beyond that,” he said.

People are buying 100-acre farms and are parking trucks there, Thompson said. “It is allowing these operators to undercut people that have gone through a full process of getting their land zoned. It’s made an unfair playing field.”

Allan Thompson, mayor of the Town of Caledon says problem areas are properties close to Brampton. (Photo: Leo Barros)

Caledon formed the Proactive Land Use Enforcement Task Force earlier this year, with two dedicated bylaw officers, said John DeCourcy, manager of municipal law enforcement.

Undertaking a proactive enforcement approach, officers have identified 180 non-compliant properties through patrols and complaints.

The focus is on education, DeCourcy said. A notice is issued giving the property owner 30 days to comply. This is followed by a two-week notice, and a charge is issued if the property owner still does not comply. He said 18 property owners have complied – a success rate of 10% – and is hopeful the number will increase.

Officers issue tickets, but for a yard with more than 100 trucks, a ticket is not going to have an impact, DeCourcy said. Property owners have been summoned to court, but hearings are yet to be held.

Problem areas are the properties close to Brampton, Thompson said.

Mayfield Road divides Caledon and Brampton. To the south in Brampton, homes and shopping plazas are being constructed at a frenetic pace. To the north, Caledon offers a picture of bucolic calm, a few homes dot farmland that stretches as far as the eye can see.

And this is where trucks are being parked illegally, DeCourcy said. “Truck owners are paying up to $400 a month to park a vehicle. Some properties have more than 100 trucks parked. Those businesses on Mayfield Road are making a lot of money unlawfully,” he said. “A ticket is not going to bring them into compliance. Hopefully the courts will.”

Mayfield Road that divides Caledon and Brampton sees a lot of truck traffic. (Photo: Leo Barros)

And the residents on the Brampton side of Mayfield Road are not happy with the constant rumble of trucks rolling in from Caledon.

Brampton councillor Gurpreet Dhillon recently filed a motion asking the Region of Peel to replace privately owned noise barriers on affected properties or install them where none are present, a news report said.

Today’s Trucking contacted Dhillon but did not receive responses to questions at the time of publication.

Nik Mengi is constructing a home on Mayfield Road in Brampton and wants trucks blocked. “I don’t want any heavy traffic. Trucks should be blocked. This a residential area,” he said.

He does not think noise barriers will work. His home will be two storeys high. “The bedrooms are on the second floor. How high will the wall be? The bedrooms will be above that, so what is the point?”

He is also worried that vibration from the constant stream of trucks will affect his home. “Trucks speed on the road. I can hear them all time. Whenever they go past, I can feel the vibration.”

Caledon councillor Johanna Downey said there are illegal truck yards all over her ward. She said the town is not against logistics and trucking but planning and policy is needed to create appropriate places to do business.

“If you have warehousing, you have to consider how many trucks not only that business has on its own, but how many trucks and trips does it generate. And where do those trucks park when they are not running on the road.”

John DeCourcy, Caledon’s manager of municipal law enforcement spearheads a task force tackling illegal truck parking. (Photo: Leo Barros)

Thompson said the town has had people for years that made their living from trucking. He said they have a truck and park it on their property. “A lot of them have got a variance from the town and they are legal.”

Downey said she has some neighbors who park their tractor in their driveway or in a shop building on their property and keep it very neat and tidy.

Thompson says big truck parking lots come up very quickly. “They bulldoze dirt, bring infill on the weekend and within a week you’ve got a full-size truck lot.”

He said a container depot was set up outside of Bolton, the town’s largest urban center. Within eight days the area was stacked eight containers high. He said, “We tried with enforcement, we’ve even blocked off the access because those were illegal. It is a legal process that we have to follow. If we don’t, we lose in court. A lot of times with neighbors, it is not fast enough.”

Thompson said some roads are not designed for big trucks, especially at the speeds they travel. “A lot of people like to get out and walk, they are finding that a threat.”

“I’ve had enough of it, the councillors have had enough.”

Allan Thompson, mayor of the Town of Caledon

He said some real estate agents are part of the problem, telling clients they can park their trucks on the property they buy. When he sees their signs, he calls them and asks them to remove them.

“I’ve had enough of it, the councillors have had enough of it, it is wearing us down.”

Thompson said some long-time residents of the town have had enough, have packed up and left. “It is very unfortunate.”

Councillor Downey echoed the fact that residents are leaving because “they are seeing the scenery changing, and not in a positive way.”

She has started roundtables with the trucking industry, and business that use them. Problems are laid out and solutions are sought. “These are symptoms of a larger systematic problem. If we can get to the root of that and supply solutions, then all the smaller problems will dissipate,” Downey said.

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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  • These illegal trucking yards are making some roads unsafe. They are lined up on the side of Torbram and King Roads to get into an illegal yard on Torbram Road. North of King. They show up after hours in the dark. Something needs to be done. Someone is going to get hurt.

  • In my opinion these trucking companies shouldn’t be allowed to just set up a yard anywhere, no one has even mentioned anything about contamination of the land, anyone who has been involved in transport knows that a good percentage of older trucks leak oil and with companies cutting cost the leaks are usually the last place they invest money. It would be nice to see soil samples being taken from time to time. This might help stop the overnight relocation of truck yards. Something needs to be done and quickly. Transport was a business that people had pride in and nowadays it’s become a real disaster with people cutting corners and with zero care of what happens.

  • We need a lot more legal truck parking with electric plugs concrete yards and a plan to house the drivers between trips or when they get sick
    A 100 acre farm should be converted into a truck parking with a co-op run repair and cross dock. Also parking for a heavy tow truck and first response truck
    This should have been done 3 years ago but more taxes and jobs in warehouse space without enough truck parking at shipping and receiving.

  • And regular residents are probably paying for the upkeep of potholes and damaged roadways that are not designed for the trucks going in and out of residential areas.
    What’s next heavy plant machinery setup in people’s garages. Enforcement needs to be tougher but we all know …… money talks.

    • Who cares if they set up heavy machinery in their garage… it’s… THEIR … garage.

      I’d wager the majority of people don’t like the fact you’re breeding, but there’s nothing we can do.

      Keep goose steppin’ like a good lil Turdeau youth

  • It should never have been permitted to get to 180 illegal yards in the first place. The faux political outrage is a dog and pony show. Residents believe Thompson tacitly supports this activity. Residents are resigned to the fact we will be driven from our home town as it transforms into a dystopian trucking ghetto. Not a well planned distribution center for the province that balances the mutual needs of existing residents and incoming companies. Just a lowest common denominator trucking ghetto that hurts the genuine logistics industry and residents.

    • Thompson is not the problem I know him. The problem is the ont gov both current and previous did come up with a good long term plan for the warehouse boom we could see coming
      Three years a number of drivers and owner ops said a good long term plan was needed to find parking and housing for these people coming to ont to drive truck and their families
      To get new distribution centers they were allowed to build without having enough overnight parking to equal a peak days delivery numbers
      Also the greenbelt has made it very difficult for a group of people and local gov to put up a 1,000 plus truck and 200 drop trailer parking spots with a repair shop. There is a lot more money in selling homes

  • Everyone wants the products that trucks bring but all have the “No trucks in our neighbourhood” attitude. California has been bad for this for decades. Now it is the whole “No Trucks” horseshoe – there is nothing golden about it!
    Do not want trucks in your neighbourhoo? Solution is simple. Stop buying things!

  • This is really not a big issue…no violence no drugs nothing is bad is happening…there’s no real space to park your rig after a long honest day at work and land which is being PURCHASED with no PRIOR strings attached should not come under scrutiny simple because a bunch of old farts don’t like changing scenery. Remember who keeps the economy flowing.

  • I think some of you are missing the point. If I read it right it’s about rural properties being used to park more than one truck and trailer, parking 100’s of units, loaded or empty, not about one truck in your own driveway at your home. I did until I expanded to eight units, then I went out and rented spots in a industrial area where truck parking was allowed.

    • Right – but it’s their land. Why does the government, or their neighbors get to decide what they do with it?

      I think YOU are missing the point; this isn’t within the rights of your neighbor to tell you what you can, or cannot do with your own private property.

      But – keep goose steppin’ kid – the brownshirt looks good on you

  • Sure we all want to do as we please on our properties. So if you want to fly your farmers feed cities banner and park 100’s of trucks on farmland go right ahead just do it the right way….apply for a zoning by-laws change. Simple as that!!!!

  • Those darn trucks. What a nuisance. I suggest that no trucks deliver anything to Caledon for one month. Then see who complains about trucking. Make it two months. Meanwhile lets hold a party for those poor nurses who have hardly had time to update their Tik Tok accounts.