THUNDER BAY – New rules meant to discourage long-haul truck drivers from using the County Fair Plaza as an unofficial truck stop appear to be having an effect, according to Thunder Bay police.
The rules went into force late last year after being approved unanimously by Thunder Bay’s city council, responding to complaints from area residents that idling trucks at County Fair were creating constant noise, fumes, and vibrations.
The rules bar vehicles with a registered weight over 10,000 kilograms from operating on East Avenue from Dawson Road to County Boulevard, and Market Street from East Avenue to Wardrope Avenue.
Trucks making deliveries are exempt.
The Thunder Bay Police Service has so far laid 25 disobey sign charges under the Highway Traffic Act related to the weight restrictions, the force reported.
The minor offence carries a $110 fine and two demerit points for operators.
Acting Sgt. Sal Carchidi of the TBPS said drivers appear to be broadly complying with the new rules.
During a traffic enforcement blitz on Monday, officers periodically checked the area and no violations were observed, he noted.
“I believe the message is getting out there and trucks are staying off East Avenue, County Boulevard, those areas,” he said.
“It’s very well signed, so even someone coming into the city who isn’t aware of it, being a professional driver, should see the four or five weight restriction signs there. As well, word does get out in the trucker community of where they can park to plan their next stops.”
Police have conducted some targeted enforcement of the weight restrictions, along with proactive enforcement, he said.
However, a report from city administration last year concluded it would take more than just the weight restrictions to solve the problem of trucks parking at County Fair.
Trucks can technically still attempt to enter the mall via the main entrance off Dawson Road, though its tight confines make it difficult for large vehicles to navigate.
Staff have previously suggested the city could create a separate parking bylaw offence to take some of the enforcement burden off police (municipal bylaw officers can’t enforce Highway Traffic Act violations).
That bylaw offence could come with steeper fines in the $300 to $400 range, the city said.
The city also suggested County Fair owners Goldmanco Inc. could be enabled to assist in ticketing.
Some councillors have suggested there’s a need for more truck stops in the area, with the nearest Santorelli’s on Arthur Street West. Another is the Pilot Flying J about 40 kilometres east of the city.