Businesses seek ways to lift load restrictions

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Clearview businesses that rely on trucking showed up at council chambers Monday in full force to advocate for upgrades to two major roadways, therefore negating the need for half load restrictions. 

The restrictions are meant to protect roads from damage during the spring thaw by reducing the amount of allowable truck weight to five tons per axle. 

For the past year a group of residents, acting as the Clearview Road Upgrade Committee, has been working to find a way to lift the restrictions and they have come forward with a proposal they are hoping Clearview will champion at the county level. 

The committee represents businesses most affected by load restrictions on County Roads 9 and 42, also known locally as Airport Road. The goal is to bring the Creemore portion of County Road 9 and County Road 42 north to Highway 26 up to a standard, creating a corridor that is unencumbered by load restrictions. 

Stayner Rental owner Paul Van Staveren and Creemore BIA past president Corey Finkelstein made the pitch Monday, requesting the township ask the County of Simcoe to use a new technology to stabilize a portion of both county roads, bringing them up to full load capacity, at a cost of $3-million (or $300,000 per kilometre). The new technology, as it was explained, would add a layer to absorb the weight of the trucks without damaging the road. This could be done at a fraction of the cost of what it would take to re-do the road. 

 The committee sees it as an investment in economic development that comes with several perks. Load restrictions, reported Deputy Mayor Barry Burton, are costing local businesses in excess of $1.5-million annually in profits, added expenses and lost wages. 

Whether shipping product or getting deliveries, businesses that are “landlocked” by county roads have to incur added costs due to multiple trips required to move goods. Other vehicles are too heavy in their built state, without any cargo. To avoid the added expense, some businesses choose to park their loads, lay people off while they wait out the restrictive period or risk fines. The committee also points out the environmental impact of requiring that heavy trucks make multiple trips, burning two or three times more fuel.  

On Monday, Creemore Springs Brewery brewmaster Paul Swindall, Steer owner Tim Young, dairy farmer Collin Walker, and Alliance Homes developer Alex Troop (pictured) all spoke in support of the proposal. 

Troop said he was staggered by the added costs associated with having to delay construction at the corner of County Road 9 and Mary Street, until road restrictions are lifted, when considering it could take 10-15 years to build out Alliance Homes. 

He said they could not take advantage of good spring weather to advance servicing, which is a significant setback in an industry that already has a limited season. Troop, like others, made the point that the costs are passed on to the consumer. 

Letters of support were received from 11 other businesses, including Midwest Metals owner Joan Gordon who helped spearhead the initiative. 

“These restrictions were mandated for when the roads were corduroyed (logs for sub base) so I have been told by former road staff,” she wrote. “The condition of the roads has dramatically improved in the last 50 years therefore we believe it is time for the road restrictions to be lifted.” 

The committee also points out that the County of Simcoe already issues exemptions during the period for specific services, such as emergency services and sewage haulage.

Clearview councillors supported the committee’s request to take their proposal to the county and to ask that the cost be considered in the 2019 county budget.

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