The Region of Peel is looking at innovative ways to solve the growing need for additional big rig parking in Ontario’s trucking heartland.
Suggestions included a central high-rise parking facility, utilizing hydro corridors and night-time use of private lots for commercial vehicles.
The rising cost of land and its availability in the populous municipal area is a major hurdle. The large number of owner-operators who want to take their vehicles home after work are an additional issue.
Speakers at the region’s goods movement task force highlighted the issues at a virtual meeting on Thursday and offered solutions.
Al Boughton of the Peel Regional Police Service Board said there are tens of thousands of owner-operators in the area, and many are new Canadians from the South Asian community.
In Mississauga and Brampton, homes are generally on smaller lots. Owner-operators gravitate toward Caledon that offers homes on larger lots where a tractor can be parked. But the town’s bylaws don’t allow parking of commercial vehicles on residential driveways.
Boughton added that at newer warehouses and industrial units parking is at a premium for four-wheelers belonging to employees and visitors. There is no place for truck parking. Commercial vehicles also need maintenance facilities nearby and security.
He suggested zoning changes and private-public solutions. He said with more companies moving to Brampton and Caledon the issue is not going away.
Caledon mayor Allan Thompson wanted to know if land on hydro corridors could be utilized. Boughton said hydro companies would be receptive to such a suggestion and would benefit from the revenue it would generate. But, he said, they do not want permanent structures.
Region of Peel chairman Nando Iannicca said hydro corridors are in inoffensive areas, not in anyone’s backyard and near major highways, thus offering a solution.
Terry Rickets, the region’s director of transportation said 36% of truck trips in Ontario start or stop in the region, hauling $10.7B worth of goods per week.
The region is forecasted to accommodate an additional 330,000 jobs by 2051, for a total of 1,070,000 jobs, the majority being in industrial employment, said Adrian Smith, chief planner and director of planning and development services.
He said region is responding by planning for warehouse and distribution, future strategic employment areas, leveraging the development process and studying interim industrial uses.
In Caledon, 1,000 acres of land have been converted into illegal lots, mostly along the Mayfield Road corridor, informed John DeCourcy, the town’s manager of municipal law enforcement.
Foreign fills are being imported to create parking lots. The fill can have devastating effect on the ecosystem, especially in the greenbelt. Residents also are affected by the noise and pollution from trucks. Some parking lots have lights that shine through the night into homes and residents cannot use road shoulders to walk or cycle on for fear of being hit by a truck.
DeCourcy said the enforcement challenges include different jurisdictions and courts. He said the town is going after landowners and not truck owners, but truckers are affected.
Dr. Peter Park from York University suggested that since the price of land was astronomical, empty spaces in the private sector like Walmart and Costco parking lots could be used at night. Instead of finding and building new spaces, utilize empty spaces. Providing security could be a matter of concern, he added.
A survey sent out by the city of Brampton on truck parking did not receive many responses, but revealed it was difficult to find parking between 7 p.m. and midnight on weekdays, said policy planner Malik Majeed.
The city was looking at best practices that included shared lots, industrial on-street and off-street parking, brownfield redevelopment, off-peak use of large venues, and logistics management that included freight transportation plans, consolidation centers and off-peak delivery options.
Geoffrey Wood, senior vice-president policy, Ontario Trucking Association said Peel is the heartbeat of the Canadian trucking industry. He said beside land use concerns, rest areas are needed for truckers to comply with hours-of-service requirements.
Christian Couture, research and development specialist at Purolator said with e-commerce skyrocketing the company has been hiring thousands of drivers to meet demand.
A courier makes between 120 to 140 stops a day. Looking for parking adds to delivery times and fewer customers are served. He said additional vehicles have had to be deployed. Also, vehicles are parked in spots longer as couriers must walk further to make deliveries. Parking woes put pressure on drivers and could lead to the risk of errors and increase carbon dioxide emissions.
The delivery giant is responding with mini terminals in urban areas, mobile storage units and electric vehicles.
Dr. Kevin Gingerich said York University’s research includes truck mobility and routing and optimizing goods movement.
GPS data is being used to identify long-haul parking locations and are being classified using geospatial data. The impact of the ELD mandate on parking patterns was also being studied but the results are not yet available.
A participant suggested building a multi-level central parking facility. Iannicca said a big solution might work. Transportation is not sexy, but a light-rail network does not deliver tomatoes, he added.
Sophia Sniegowski Begidzhanov, Musket Transport’s corporate communications officer said educating the public about the importance of trucking is key. She said the public has no connection with e-commerce deliveries and the trucks that make them possible.
She said the high cost of land is constricting the sector’s growth and the ELD mandate will restrict drivers on how far to go to find parking, leading to congestion.
Trucks roll 8.6 million kilometers every week on Region of Peel roads. They must eventually park. Finding solutions and implementing them will be beneficial to the industry and the population that enjoys its services.
By Leo Barros