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Oliver-Paipoonge mayor slams Dawson Road truck ban

Says plan will end up "costing people's lives"
Highway 11-17 passes through the village of Kakabeka Falls.

THUNDER BAY -- The Mayor of Oliver-Paipoonge says there are more sensible ways to deal with transport truck traffic through Thunder Bay than banning them from Dawson Road.

Lucy Kloosterhuis says if the city goes ahead with its plan, it will divert about 1,000 trucks a day to Highway 11-17 through Kakabeka Falls, which she said already sees an average of 700 transports daily.

In an interview Wednesday with, Kloosterhuis said "putting 1700 trucks on one road is not going to make anyone's life safer. It's going to end up costing people's lives."

Noting that Oliver-Paipoonge has residents living along both the Highway 11-17 and Highway 102/Dawson Road corridors, she said she understands concerns that people have about traffic safety "on both sides," but adding to the congestion in the village of Kakabeka will increase the likelihood of "major, major accidents" in that area.

Kloosterhuis also pointed to the presence of an elementary school adjacent to the highway in Kakabeka, and to the heavy tourist traffic at the provincial park, especially in the summer.

There are no traffic lights in the village. According to the mayor, current provincial guidelines don't allow them.

"I think the City of Thunder Bay can possibly do a few more things on Dawson Road that will ensure people's safety," Kloosterhuis said. "The truck drivers are very good drivers, on the whole. They do not go out to cause accidents. They're out there making a living and we should try and help them make that living in a safe way."

She said that at some point in the future a new bypass around Kakabeka would alleviate truck traffic there, but that is "a long way off."

City officials will discuss the proposed truck route plan on Thursday at two meetings, one with the business community and the other with the general public.