TORONTO, Ont. – Thunder Bay, Ont. has once again delayed a vote on a contested truck route, postponing a related vote that was set for this week and will now be scheduled no later than Dec. 2.
The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) says city staff had denied its request to address revisions to the proposed bylaw. Municipal officials had cited that association concerns were already addressed during previous meetings in the summer, but the revisions themselves were drafted Sept. 23 with no opportunity for consultations, the association says.
City council is looking to close much of Arthur Street and Dawson Road (Highway 102) to anything above 15,000 kilograms, moving most trucks onto Highway 11/17, and restricting truck traffic from several city streets with the exception of local deliveries.
While the route was approved in January, the related bylaw is not yet complete.
Proposed revisions look to change the bylaw’s definition of a “driver” so tickets can be issued to a vehicle owner or trucking company, OTA says, noting that the Ontario Highway Traffic Act prohibits tickets from being issued to a company for the sole actions of a driver. Another revision would allow drivers to continue deliveries without reverting back to the designated truck route between deliveries, but this “conduct of business” doesn’t acknowledge the need to follow hours of service regulations.
“Being denied the opportunity to address new legitimate issues with council is absurd since the bylaw is in direct conflict with the [Ontario] Highway Traffic Act and ignores that truck drivers, as a course of business, must follow hours-of service-regulations,” says Jonathan Blackham, the association’s director – public policy and affairs.
“Consistency between provincial and municipal language with respect to truck routes is important, as is the acknowledgement that municipalities have an obligation to support drivers and the industry from a road safety perspective. The current language in the bylaw ignores these basics.”
Charla Robinson, president of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, has raised concerns as well.
In a letter to city council, the chamber cites safety implications of adding 500 to 1,000 trucks per day to the Thunder Bay Expressway and Kakabeka Falls; increased distances and carbon outputs for deliveries; and “unnecessary” weight restrictions proposed for Red River Road, Strand Avenue, Regina Avenue, and Picadilly Avenue, among other concerns.
“The minor amendments that have been included in proposed By-Law 110/2019 do not address our continued concerns; rather, the addition of exemptions for some deliveries but not all serves only to add further complexity for business to comply and for the police to enforce this By-Law,” Robinson adds.