The controversial, longstanding proposal to prohibit commercial trucks from a critical transportation route in Thunder Bay took a blow this week when the City’s council voted against the bylaw to enact the Designated Truck Route (DTR) by a vote of 7-6.
If passed, the proposed DTR bylaw would have banned heavy trucks from accessing Dawson Road and Arthur Streets – which are used to safely bypass the busy city core – and all through-truck traffic would be forced onto Highway 11/17. Dawson Road, an extension of Provincial Hwy 102, is the traditional bypass route around Thunder Bay for regional and interprovincial truck traffic and is a critical piece of infrastructure for cross-Canada trade. The proposal would have also prohibited long-haul truck drivers from accessing essential services such as safe and secure truck parking, hotels, grocery stores and retail food outlets in many areas of the city.
The proposed bylaw has been a contentious issue for years, leading the Ontario Trucking Association to make multiple appearances at Thunder Bay City Council to speak against the truck route and attempt to educate decision makers on the pitfalls of going through with the plan.
“OTA has repeatedly argued there are many alternative transportation strategies and safety initiatives that could effectively solve the traffic issues the City is trying to address through the proposed DTR,” said OTA president Stephen Laskowski.
Because Council approved the creation of a bylaw for the DTR in previous sessions, it remains bound by municipal processes to continue bringing it back to a vote it until a version of the bylaw is passed.
Councillor Brian Hamilton, whose change of heart against the bylaw last summer swayed the voting balance against proceeding with the plan, has declared his intention to file a notice of motion to rescind the original DTR decision. If passed, the motion would effectively put the matter to rest and leave the status quo in place. However, the motion would require a two-thirds majority vote of Council (9 of 13 Councillors) to pass.
“In the meantime, OTA will continue to work with Council and city officials to explore proactive and viable options outside of the DTR for the benefit of the city and to improve safety for all road users and residents in and around the great city of Thunder Bay,” said Geoffrey Wood, Senior VP, Policy.