Nanaimo offers permits for training on commercial routes

NANAIMO – Truck training schools can access exemption permits to access major roads not part of a designated truck network.

Truckers-in-training will now have more places to practice.

The City of Nanaimo plans to offer permits for truck-training purposes on major roads, such as Uplands Drive, and grow its truck route network, which restricts commercial truck travel in the city.

Commercial trucks are required under a city bylaw to travel a designated network of provincial highways and major roads, allowed to leave only by the shortest path to their final destination, a city report shows.

But those engaged in truck training don’t have a specific destination and “sort of fall between the cracks in the bylaw,” said Gordon Foy, the city’s transportation manager, who adds the schools end up being restricted to the truck routes, which is a relatively small number of streets. The changes will give more flexibility, he said.

Nanaimo city council agreed last week to update the truck route network to include roads such as Boxwood, from Northfield Road to Dufferin Crescent, and Metral Drive, from Aulds Road to Enterprise Way. Truck schools can also apply to get permit-based exceptions for areas of Uplands Drive and Turner Road.

Phil Dutton, owner of Parkway Driving Academy, has sought changes to the route for more than three years and was ecstatic with council’s decision. He trains men and women, who drive in places like Nanaimo, Vancouver and Seattle, and he said he needs to be able to educate them to manipulate trucks around a roundabout, on right-hand turns and in traffic.

“I am not only just doing it for me, but I’m doing it for the transportation industry, which is North America’s largest employer,” said Dutton.

Coun. Bill Bestwick pointed out during last week’s council meeting that half of Boxwood is residential.

“If they need a parking lot to back up to like they would have to if they were backing into crazy places and going through [pylons], all those things, that’s good training for me, but to increase an already busy and congested street that has a lot of people that walk it … I have a little bit of a challenge with that,” he said.

Bestwick supported the motion, but wants safety improvements from Meredith to Northfield roads for pedestrians.

Coun. Diane Brennan, speaking on the updated truck route and permits, said it made sense.

“I understand and I appreciate that the proponent is training truck drivers to be safe drivers and that’s a good thing for us so I would like to be able to accommodate him and his students so that I can feel like when I’m on the road around trucks they’ve been safely trained,” she said.

The cost of additional truck route signage is estimated at less than $5,000.

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