City of Port Alberni staff will be taking on a truck count to determine exactly what kind of traffic is travelling on both Third and Anderson avenues as well as Harbour Road.
This could be a first step in developing an industrial truck route, which has been debated in Port Alberni for years
“Western [Forest Products] expressed to us that they wanted some better data on how many trucks we’re talking about, what are the loads they’re carrying and that kind of thing,” said city CAO Tim Pley during a special meeting of council on May 15.
“So staff discussed today the potential of doing a truck count.”
Although city staff has previously completed reports on the heavy truck traffic on Third Avenue and Anderson Avenue, the reports are based on a presumption that a waterfront route along Harbour Road was the only alternative route to look at.
“As staff we want to back up and count the trucks, see what the traffic is, and see if there are other alternatives other than the proposed Harbour Road,” said Pley.
Director of development services Scott Smith further explained that the truck count will not just count the number of trucks on the road, but also the size of trucks, what types of trucks they are and whether or not they are tandem vehicles.
The plan, he said, is to have people in a couple of strategic locations gathering as much traffic as possible over a period of time on certain days, in order to gather data. “Not just one day, but over a period of a few weeks, just trying to get that baseline information,” he explained.
He said most of the counts will take place on Third Avenue and Harbour Road, because at this point city staff wants to target what they think will move them forward.
“You could go all over the place if you wanted,” he said. “Right now we’re just talking a little more limited…to be able to give Western some information that they’re looking at. Also the community. We need to know what is going on in those areas, what’s going on in upper Third.”
He added that a truck count hasn’t been done in the city in a general way in many years.
Councillor McLeman approved of the idea.
“As long as I’ve been on council, we’ve had people complaining about the heavy trucks on Anderson and Third,” he said. “But we can’t stop that until we have another route, and then we can pass a bylaw saying the heavy trucks have to go that way.”
Councillor Denis Sauvé was more critical of the idea, as he seemed to think it was moving too slow. “It’s been an ongoing issue as far as I can remember,” he said. “I feel like we’re waiting for something to happen before we take action. I’d rather just get some action done and prohibit some certain routes, and let the onus be on them to find another route. But that’s the hard approach I want to do.
“I guess I’ll be patient another year or so and see what happens.”
McLeman explained that council has tried a firmer approach in previous years, but they have been halted by the Ministry of Transportation. An alternate route must be provided for trucks before they are prohibited from using Third or Anderson Avenues.