Around 200 dump trucks passed through Newmarket on Wednesday afternoon as they made their way to downtown Toronto as part of a rolling protest against new provincial regulations on their vehicles.
York Regional Police advised motorists to avoid the portion of Green Lane between 2nd Concession and Highway 404 as the massive convoy made its way onto the highway. The dump trucks headed to the legislature at Queen's Park before noisily driving to Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney's constituency office in Holland Landing.
TRAFFIC ADVISORY - Avoid the areas of Green Lane, from the Hwy 404 to 2nd Concession, as well as 2nd Concession and Mount Albert Road, East Gwillimbury. There are approximately 200 dump trucks involved in a moving demonstration.— York Regional Police (@YRP) December 30, 2020
"She wasn't there, but we had a good time making our presence known," said Sarbjit Kaur, a spokesperson for Ontario Dump Truck Association (ODTA), which organized the protest.
This was the third protest in as many weeks against portions of Ontario Regulation 413/05 that will come into force on Jan. 1, and contains a mandatory configuration for trucks carrying heavy loads intended to help increase safety and protect road infrastructure from damage.
Trucks made after 2011 already meet this new standard, but vehicles made before then will have to either carry smaller loads or get an expensive retrofit, which the ODTA says can cost as much as $40,000.
Although the new configuration has been on the books for years, Kaur said dump truck drivers were caught by surprise that the new standard was going to be enforced starting New Year's Day.
"The idea that there have been 10 years to prepare is incorrect. The Jan. 1 effect day is new," she said.
"It was only announced earlier this year, and notices started going out to truckers very recently. Further, in 2016, the government signed an agreement that nothing would go forward without industry consensus."
For independent operators who bought trucks expecting them to last for 20 to 25 years only to be forced to pay for an expensive retrofit halfway through their lifespan is extremely frustrating, said Kaur, who noted other kinds of trucks affected by the new regulations had been given more time.
"Cement trucks got 20 years, fuel trucks got 25 years, but the only one that wasn't accommodated was dump trucks."
The ODTA is calling on the government to issue special permits to allow older trucks to continue operating as before.