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Letter to the editor: Controversial Designated Truck Route

Conmee resident Leslie Kivisto is raising concerns about Highway 11/17.
Letters to the editor

This is an open letter to Thunder Bay city council,

My name is Leslie Kivisto, I am a resident of Conmee, Ontario, a current council member for Conmee, and a Highway 11/17 resident.

This is an open letter to Thunder Bay city council regarding the controversial Designated Truck Route.

In 2019, I watched online as Thunder Bay city council considered multiple presentations from different groups for or against the DTR. I was disappointed, time and again, that many of the presentations promoting the DTR presented skewed statistics and information while omitting any real concern for citizens outside city limits. It was claimed that Highway 11/17 is entirely four lanes, which is true of the harbour extension. Past the extension, the highway has portions that are four lanes, portions with an alternating passing lane, and portions that are simply two lanes, Highway 11/17 is not entirely four lanes. It was stated that there were no school bus stops on the Highway 11/17 extension. This is true because there are no residential properties along the extension. This is a misleading statistic because there was no inclusion of the many school children who are picked up right on Highway 11/17 outside city limits just past the Vibert Road and Highway 130 intersection.

I want to emphasize that I do not think this should be an “us” vs “them” argument. I understand that the DTR is important to those promoting it and those who originated the idea. What I am disappointed by is that there has been no consideration of the many rural residents that drive into Thunder Bay for work every single day down Highway 11/17 from Shabaqua and beyond. There has been no consideration of the many bus stops along the highway. I drive down the highway often to get to my classes, my neighbours drive the highway to get to work, and my children are picked up by their school bus on the highway. On Wednesday, Dec. 15, I witnessed, yet again, another unsafe transport nearly run a full school bus off the highway in the fog. I have witnessed and reported multiple transports that have blown the stop lights on the school bus, or those that have been driving unsafely by either tailgating, swerving all over the road, or travelling at excessive speeds on Highway 11/17.

There have been many transport involved collisions on Highway 102 and Highway 11/17, these collisions are often brutal and involve fatalities. This is not acceptable and something has to be done to address this. Having a DTR through a region that would see only one route through an area that also has multiple residential properties as well as a school directly on that highway is not the solution.

I challenge city council and the surrounding rural municipalities to consider entering a collaborative relationship. We have the power to make our roads *collectively* safer by demanding stricter training standards for licensing of transport truck drivers and by pushing for better infrastructure. Asking the province to address the deficits in funding for OPP, so they are sufficiently staffed to help keep our roads safe is also worth exploring, as well as holding extremely high standards for trucking companies to adhere to.

I know we are all passionate about the safety of our families, friends, and fellow citizens. Many of us, including myself, have made disparaging comments in the past about opposing opinions related to the DTR out of frustration and fear. It’s time to look at what is best for the safety of the citizens of our entire region, including the safety of those in the trucking industry, because at the end of the day, poor training standards are putting the lives of truck drivers at risk too.

I know not everyone will appreciate my opinions, but I hope that everyone can agree we need to do better.

Leslie Kivisto,

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