SASKATOON, Sask. — Rules and regulations were all the rage during the Saskatchewan Trucking Association’s 77th Annual General Meeting and Gala.
The day began with a panel of experts who talked rules and regulations in the province and what the industry can expect in the next few years as far as legislation goes.
First up at bat was Blair Wagar, the assistant deputy minister for policy and programs, Ministry of Highways & Infrastructure, who spoke briefly before his colleague. He focused his presentation on the growth the province is seeing and how the ministry is working to deal with this in terms of infrastructure.
“Saskatchewan is experiencing some growth at a rate that we have not experienced in the past and it’s been happening over a fairly sustained period of time,” he said. “From a private sector perspective and a public sector prospective, while it’s an opportunity, there’s a lot of challenges. There is a growth plan in place, it does have a focus on growth and a focus on quality of life. A big part of that growth plan from government’s perspective infrastructure. And of that overall infrastructure plan we think of hospitals and schools, transportation is seen as that major trade enabler for our province.”
Wagar said that the ministry is focused on harmonization though it could take some time before all the provinces are on the same page, regulation wise.
“When we think of the work that the ministry of highways is doing, harmonization has been key,” he said. “I know it doesn’t move at the pace that the industry would like it to, and it doesn’t move at the depth the industry would like it to either, in terms of being consistent across the provinces and there’s work that’s been done and we made a lot of progress. There’s a lot more work to be done and it’s a continually changing environment as the industry evolves and innovates itself, our regulatory environment needs to keep up. So I look at harmonization not as to a destination but more of a journey in terms of continually improving and aligning our regulations.”
To expand on Wagar’s presentation was Andy Cipywnyk, manager of trucking policy, Ministry of Highways & Infrastructure. Cipywynk spoke mostly about harmonization of the prairie provinces, something that the province has been working out for a long time.
“At the end of the day, we all as much as it is possible to have the same rules,” he said. “We may never have the same rules, for example, Alberta has a dimensional limit on wide loads, that’s predominately because of the heavy haul in Fort McMurray. They also have a lot more traffic than we do. We’re never going to necessarily be exactly the same, recognizing that there are certain restraints but we’ll do our best so that we make it the same.”
He also brought up the pilot program Ontario is running on the Walmart Supercube 62 ft. semi-trailer and if that size of trailer would be making its ay to the west coast.
“I know that Walmart and other companies have approached other provinces. I believe Alberta is going to be running a pilot too, so it looks like there’s real no issues with that vehicle other than it happens to be longer than a regular semi-trailer. Before we adopt that in the province, we’re going to have to talk to make sure that if we go there, what I’d like to see happen, and what I’ve been pushing in the west, is that we all do it together, so that way there’s not one company or industry that has an advantage and that we all approach this the same way. We don’t want to see anyone disadvantaged.”
Last to speak was Earl Cameron, vice-president of SGI Auto Fund who focused his talk on traffic rules and regulations. He began by talking about the appointment of the province’s traffic safety committee last year that made 26 recommendations to better the roads of Saskatchewan. He said that the focus was on harsher punishments for drunk driving, speeding, and not wearing a seatbelt.
Cameron also spoke of the most recent recommendation about changing the practices of roadside impoundments on commercial vehicles. He said the recommendation is to protect owners who have safe fleets and happen to have a driver that isn’t following the law.
“If your vehicle is impounded, you can get an immediate release if you have a safety program and evidence of that,” he said. “You also have to have the abstract of that driver. The vehicle will be released back to the owner immediately and the driver will receive a three-day suspension.”
He said the recommendation was received well with the association and others in the industry who have heard it so far.
Finally, commenting on the recent news coverage in Saskatchewan about the implementation of photo radars in the province, Cameron said: “We have a pilot project coming up on photo radar. You’ve probably seen this in the news. Photo radar is probably one of the most polarizing traffic safety issue. Half the people think it’s good and the other half say (they) don’t like it. They will be in fixed locations, so they won’t be hiding around the corner or in high speed corridors.”
Sonia Straface is the associate editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. She graduated from Ryerson University's journalism program in 2013 and enjoys writing about health and wellness and HR issues surrounding the transportation industry. Follow her on Twitter: @SoniaStraface. All posts by Sonia Straface