Mulroney pushes back at dump truck protesters

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation – and several aggregate-related businesses – continue to support recent upgrades to provincial weights and dimensions, despite ongoing protests by Toronto-area dump truck operators.

“Following at least a decade of extensive consultation, the vast majority of the industry overwhelmingly supports the Safe, Productive, Infrastructure Friendly (SPIF) model and agrees on its importance in protecting Ontario’s critical infrastructure,” Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said in a related statement.

Dump Trucks
Dump truck operators have organized a series of SPIF-related protests this year. (File photo: Jag Gundu/ODTA)

“There is no doubt that heavy vehicles put stress on Ontario’s road network, which compromises the safety of the traveling public. We have known this for decades,” she adds. “The SPIF model was implemented over the course of several years in four phases, with the final phase completed in July 2011. At that time, a grandfathering period was established, which gave carriers nearly a decade to comply – this is an exceptional amount of time.”

Required equipment upgrades, including self-steering lift axles and load equalization systems, can cost $20,000 to $40,000 per truck.

Organizers of the Don’t Dump on Us protests around Toronto estimate that the updated rules essentially removed 1,000 trucks from the road when the latest grandfathering provisions came to an end in January.

While the trucks built to earlier standards are allowed to continue to operate, they must do so at reduced weights.

“We remain firm on our position. This regulation will remain in place,” Mulroney said.

Hundreds of protesters took to highways throughout the Toronto area on Thursday. (Illustration: Don’t Dump on Us Coalition)

The ministry identified a list of supporting associations including the Ontario Trucking Association, Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, Canadian Transportation Equipment Association, Greater Ottawa Truckers Association, and Automotive Transportation Service Superintendents’ Association, among others.

The Ontario Trucking Association condemned the rolling blockades, and said the protests were “a threat to public safety and are not responsible or effective expressions of citizens’ or groups’ democratic right to protest.

“The Government of Ontario has actively engaged the Ontario trucking industry for over 20 years on this matter and multiple segments of the trucking industry are already in compliance with the policy,” the province’s largest trucking association added. “To be in compliance with SPIF, all sizes of trucking companies have invested billions of dollars in new equipment that better protects Ontario’s road infrastructure and improves vehicle safety.”

“The list of supporters provided do not represent the dump truck industry and are not required to meet the regulations in question. In fact, some of those listed have sent letters to the minister urging her to work with our industry to come to solutions,” the Don’t Dump on Us Coalition replied in a supplied statement of its own.

It cited support from groups including the city of Brampton, the Ontario Liberal Party, and Ontario NDP, and accused Mulroney of not working with protesters to resolve concerns.

“Brampton is a major transportation hub. We support our essential dump truck industry and it’s workers. Time for the province to address their concerns and resolve the issues. We have to support our workers – now more than ever,” Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said on Twitter.

Ontario Liberal leader and former transport minister Steven Del Duca offered support of his own through the platform, tweeting: “Doug Ford needs to bring Ontario’s dump truck operators to the table and consult them on regulatory changes. They deserve a seat at the table.”

SPIF supporters

But the Ontario Ministry of Transportation also identified SPIF supporters including the Ontario Good Roads Association, Ontario Stone Sand and Gravel Association, and Ontario Road Builders Association (ORBA).

“Over the past several years, ORBA members have made the required investments to ensure compliance with the SPIF regulation. They have done this with full awareness of the timelines involved in the SPIF grandfathering provisions, and in agreement with the ultimate aim of the SPIF regulation – to enhance safety and reduce the impact to Ontario’s roads,” said ORBA CEO Bryan Hocking, in an April 15 letter to the ministry.

Support has also come from individual companies that contract dump truck operators for their services.

“I would like to make it clear that Lafarge, as an industry leader that is always looking to enhance and promote the evolution of safety standards, fully supports the implementation of the SPIF regulations. In alignment with this premise, all our contracted haulers have already made changes to ensure their fleet is compliant with these regulations,” said Lafarge’s Peter Sanguineti, vice-president – aggregates, eastern Canada.

“We would like to confirm that TACC Construction supports infrastructure friendly (SPIF) vehicles and have processes in place to monitor and adhere to the current regulations which took place January 1, 2021,” said Tony Riga, equipment manager at TACC Construction.

  • This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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