Thunder Bay City Council postponed a vote set this week on new revisions to the proposed truck route bylaw – a move OTA continues to raise serious questions about.
OTA’s Jonathan Blackham was prepared to address Council and the new specific revisions to the by-law, but was denied from doing so by City Staff, which cited information by OTA had already been raised with Council in previous meetings in the summer. However, the proposed revisions to the bylaw that OTA was to comment on were drafted September 23, 2019 with no opportunity for consultation provided.
The vote has now been pushed to a future date, but no later than December 2, 2019.
“Being denied the opportunity to address new legitimate issues with Council is absurd since the bylaw is in direct conflict with the Highway Traffic Act and ignores that truck drivers, as a course of business, must follow hours-of service-regulations,” said Jonathan Blackham OTA Director, Public Policy and Affairs.
Specifically, revisions to the bylaw included a provision for the change in definition of ‘driver’, so tickets can also be issued to the owner of the vehicle or the trucking company. This proposed change, runs counter to several sections of the Highway Traffic Act that prohibits tickets being issued to companies for the sole actions of a driver. Included would be holding a company accountable for a driver disobeying an official sign which is the charge typically applied with respect to truck routes.
In addition, the definition of ‘conduct of business’ was added to allow drivers and trucks to continue deliveries in Thunder Bay without having to revert back to the designated truck route after each delivery, before proceeding to the next stop. Drivers in the course of conducting business as defined would be exempt from the bylaw. What is missing from the Conduct of Business, however, was an acknowledgement that truck drivers must follow the hours of service regulations and are required to take daily and weekly off-duty periods, which means access to truck parking is critical.
“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,” said Blackham.
OTA will continue to be engaged in this process and will attend the next round of meetings when they are scheduled.