ODTA continues to fight SPIF standard

by Abdul Latheef

TORONTO, Ont. — Three weeks after the government unequivocally rejected their demand, Ontario dump truck operators organized a “day of action” in Toronto on Wednesday, taking their grievances over changes to weights and dimensions to provincial politicians.

With the slogans “Don’t Dump on Us” and “Dump Trucks Move Our Economy” emblazoned on their rigs, the protesters first went to the constituency offices of local members of provincial parliament (MPPs), seeking their intervention to resolve the dispute.

ODTA - Mulroney
Wednesday’s protest ended at the constituency office of Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney. (Photo: Jag Gundu/ODTA)

They later gathered outside the Ontario Legislature before driving in a convoy to the office of Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney in Holland Landing, Ont.

It was the third dump truck protest in as many weeks – the first was held in Toronto on Dec. 10 and the second in Windsor, Ont., on Dec. 28. But unlike last time, Wednesday’s protest was supported by other truckers as well.

MTO reiterates policy

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has made it clear that it will start enforcing Ontario Regulation 413/05: Vehicle Weights and Dimensions for Safe, Productive, Infrastructure-Friendly (SPIF) Vehicles on New Year’s Day.

The regulation was introduced in four phases during 2000-11, and operators have had nearly 10 years of grandfathering period to comply with the rule.

That deadline expires Dec. 31.

“This regulation will remain in place, and there is no viable reason to waver from it.”

– Ministry of Transportation, Ontario

Trucks with SPIF configurations are allowed higher weights, while non-SPIF vehicles will be restricted to operating at lower weights.

“We have a responsibility to keep Ontario’s transportation network safe and reliable,” the ministry said in an email to Today’s Trucking on Wednesday afternoon, reiterating its intention to enforce compliance.

“This regulation will remain in place, and there is no viable reason to waver from it,” it said.

The ministry added that the onus has always been and continues to be on carriers to do their due diligence, and comply with any regulation that would ensure critical infrastructure is protected.

“Carriers who are unable to comply by Jan. 1st will not be pulled off the road. They may continue to operate their vehicles at a reduced weight,” it said.

ODTA Protest
The office of Mississauga-Malton MPP Deepak Anand received the first letter from the protesters. (Photo: Jag Gundu/ODTA)

‘No meaningful consultation’

The Ontario Dump Truck Association (ODTA), which organized the protests, has been spearheading the campaign against the SPIF regime.

The ODTA told Today’s Trucking on Wednesday that the Jan. 1 date had not been shared or communicated to drivers until very recently.

“Further in 2016, the government gave assurances that nothing would take effect without the agreement and engagement of the industry. There has been no meaningful consultation, or addressing of valid concerns, while accommodations have been made for other categories of trucks that have the same build, such as cement trucks,” the association said. 

The MTO, however, said it had held extensive consultations with the industry before adopting the regulation.

The ministry also said that on Dec. 29, it invited all stakeholders, including the ODTA, to a virtual briefing to answer technical questions ahead of enforcing the law.

The ODTA did not respond nor participate in the call, it said.

The association defended its absence, saying setting up a last-minute technical briefing is not particularly helpful, and hardly qualifies as engagement.

“We have asked for a proper meeting to address and resolve the issues. Not a technical briefing.”

ODTA Protest
It was the third dump truck protest in Ontario in as many weeks. (Photo: Jag Gundu/ODTA)

Still optimistic

Still, the ODTA said it was hopeful of a positive outcome.

“Yes, we are confident that once the government realizes how unfair and impractical these measures are, they will act to help support drivers and the industry,” it said.

“The solution is to simply grandfather these trucks for their full lifespan as they have for other categories of trucks such as cement trucks.”

– Ontario Dump Truck Association

The group is urging the province to allow all triaxle dump trucks to operate at maximum weights for the life of the vehicle without SPIF-related restrictions.

“The solution is to simply grandfather these trucks for their full lifespan as they have for other categories of trucks such as cement trucks,” the ODTA said.

“This is what should have been done a decade ago. Asking independent truckers to spend $25,000 to $40,000 on a retrofit that is not even readily available, or operate at one-third reduced capacity is unreasonable.”

Major trucking groups such as the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) and the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) are supportive of the SPIF regime, which they say will help ensure road safety.

They have also urged the government to stick to the timeline.

The ODTA called their stance disappointing.

“This specific issue impacts dump trucks. Those organizations do not represent these drivers, and it is disappointing that they are not standing in solidarity with us,” it said.

ODTA Protest
The Ontario Aggregates Trucking Association (OATA) issued a statement supporting the protest. (Photo: Jag Gundu/ODTA)

The Ontario Aggregates Trucking Association (OATA), meanwhile, issued a statement supporting the protest.

It urged the government not to enforce the regulation Jan. 1, and to engage with the industry to reach a solution.

“Further, as members of the industry with deep knowledge of the trade, we reject the suggestion that the trucks in question pose any kind of safety risk,” the statement added.

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  • then we should sue the government if they Allow these old trucks to run, when i sold my old truck and bought a new spiff truck they had 10 years to comply what is the excuse
    What ? a large class action lawsuit ?

  • For a segment of transportation that relies heavily on government work, they should either retrofit or buy new compliant trucks. Without all levels of government contracts, their business will disappear. As a sideboard to that, they are flying under the radar from blitzes and highway scales.

  • The ODTA stated that “… the Jan. 1 date had not been shared or communicated to drivers until very recently.”

    Question: Why hadn’t the ODTA and OATA communicated this to their membership during the 10 plus years that they should have been aware of the regulation? Is this not the mandate of any respectable industry sector association?

    • They have a vested interest in their membership or themselves to keep their guys going however they have their deal setup,you can’t see or very well when you have your head in the sand eh!

  • NUTS that for 50 years now the Ontario ministry of Transportation has been unable or unwilling to enforce their “new” weight laws.
    This on the simplest configuration of vehicle to cross the scales!
    Time to stop giving in.

  • Our small private fleet plays by the rules. It’s expensive to replace 5-axle trailers with new SPIF 5-axle trailers. But we did it. For all the right reasons. Dump truck drivers already managed to have themselves exempted from axle overweight violations. And now they want to take it a step further? I don’t think so. Maybe if they learned to play by the rules they wouldn’t all vanish during enforcement blitzes.

  • in my eyes weight is weight weather there are all wheels on the ground or you have to lift a set of wheels to go around a corner. the weight is still the same. It is very communist to force drivers and owner operaters to spend 30 to 40 thousand dollars on a retrofit. again weight is weight on the road no matter how many wheels are on the road. MTO need to look at either reducing the weight of all trucks to the states weights of 80.000 pounds for all trucks so it does not matter how many wheels or steer axles you have.

  • I dont see why the government does not let these dump trucks go to the end of their life like they have for cement trucks .. most of these dump trucks are small companies & cement trucks are mostly large companies who can afford to be spiff compliant why should it not be an equal playing field for all

  • I am a a broker in Hamilton Ontario and own one single axel truck with pup.
    As an independent trucker, I knew nothing about this law until a year ago.
    There has been no communication by mail, which could have been done with every licence renewal (every 3 months). Why didn’t they let me know?
    Maybe big companies in the industry knew about this, individual truckers did not.
    I feel I did NOT have 10 years to prepare. I’m sure I’m not the only independent that has been caught short.

  • These guys are an embarrassment to the industry. The MTO gave lots of time to prepare for this. 120 months to save up $40,000, that’s $333.33 a month or 120 months notice to upgrade your equipment. They’ve been fair enough.

  • I am a fleet supervisor for a large concrete producing company that operates in Ontario, we have not been granted a pass on this newest regulation and have been modifying our units that do not comply. This information has been readily avalable to the industry for quite some time allowing our company and others in our business to comply.

  • Safety codes in industries keeps evolving as we learn, however to make a sole owner foot a $30K bill is just wrong. Trucks should be entitled to run at their previous weight, for the duration of the trucks life, however an annual permit must be taken each year by owner. Just like another sticker for plates.

  • What can we do to fight against spif?
    I don’t mind eventually changing my lift axle to a steerable axle but I do not agree with the computer controlled mechanism.
    Also the reduction in non spif allowable GVWR is crazy and will cause many to go out of business!

  • Well that puts me out of work! My former employer is not gonna spend 40k on a drop steering axle. Thanks government, dump truck work our cities and towns, what now?

  • I sure hope MTO doesn’t cave in ,I enjoy my steer axle not having to lift at every corner that beig said there are some issues such as more maintenance read more $$.there are some quirks with how they are required to operate which we had tried to explain to them back in 2000 when this was being proposed,they were trying to dummy proof the system. I still see numerous excavation and asphalt haul truck daily running loaded on highway with axle up which is very unsafe and hard on truck and infrastructure,next thing we will have to endure is auto controls of some degree if these operators continue to leave their boxes in the up position will travelling down road hitting bridges and power lines etc.