THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay’s city council has approved new rules designed to discourage long-haul drivers from using a local mall as an unofficial truck stop.
The rules will 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 accessing the mall for purposes like deliveries would be exempt.
Residents in the area have complained of constant noise, fumes, and vibrations from trucks that pull into the back parking lot in the County Fair Plaza.
Coun. Brian Hamilton noted the city’s own report says additional measures will be needed to solve the problem of trucks at County Fair.
“I’m wondering if city council maybe sent this to administration with a little bit too narrow of a focus with East Avenue,” he said.
Director of engineering and operations Kayla Dixon said the weight restrictions would help manage the problem, but pointed out trucks could still attempt to enter the mall via the main entrance off of Dawson Road, though it’s difficult for large vehicles to navigate.
Licensing and enforcement manager Doug Vincent said the city plans to add a separate parking bylaw offence that could more directly address the problem, and lift the burden of enforcement off police.
The weight restriction offence, falling under the Highway Traffic Act, can only be enforced by police, Vincent told councillors.
“We’re looking to create a new bylaw for parking illegally on someone’s private property with a heavy truck like this… so that we can work in conjunction with police on the scene,” he said.
With plans to expand the availability of bylaw enforcement officers, Vincent said the city could go further.
“We’re looking to alternatives to having police involved in this matter at all, if we can,” he said. “Going forward with my division’s restructuring, part of our plan would be to dispatch [bylaw] officers there evenings and weekends to deal with this under a bylaw, and not… under the Highway Traffic Act.”
The city will look to create “significant fines” for the parking offence, with Vincent saying other municipalities have recently created similar fines in the $300 to $400 range.
The city has also said it’s in talks with County Fair owners Goldmanco Inc. on long-term plans to enable the business to assist in ticketing. The Toronto-based company has declined to comment on the issue.
Councillors including Hamilton and Peng You said the city also shouldn’t make truckers feel unwelcome.
Truckers are “important for the Canadian economy – we want to be open and welcoming,” Hamilton said.
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.
Council voted unanimously for the changes, with councillors Fraser and Giertuga absent.
The new rules won't come into force until council officially approves a bylaw amendment, a process scheduled for early December.