Truckers are grinding their gears over a move by the city to explore the possibility of banning trucks from Provencher Boulevard and Portage and Main.
The Manitoba Trucking Association is upset the civic infrastructure renewal and public works committee wants the administration to study the pros and cons of a ban and report back in 90 days after Coun. Dan Vandal, the committee's chairman, asked for the report.
Terry Shaw, the MTA's general manager, wants to hit the brakes on the issue because he says the problem for truckers is actually larger than the possibility of being banned on two major streets in Winnipeg.
"The congestion and growth of Winnipeg is far outstripping the ability of the infrastructure -- we don't have a transportation vision 2013 let alone 2040," Shaw said.
"Instead of piecemeal moves like banning trucks from Provencher and Portage and Main, let's step back and see what do we need for everyone and then put together the vision that captures it all.
'You are not making the trucks go away -- you are just putting them elsewhere'
"You are not making the trucks go away -- you are just putting them elsewhere."
Shaw said the road bed on Provencher was constructed to take into account it was a truck route.
About 27,000 vehicles per day drive on Provencher.
Shaw worries what could happen next if trucks were banned from those two areas.
"Osborne, Corydon and Academy are all lovely areas and they are all truck routes. Trucks should always have access to the areas they need access to.
"Six hundred trucks is only five per cent of the traffic on Provencher -- it is a small percentage of the traffic."
Shaw said the association has already calculated that, based on the city's statistics of 600 trucks on Provencher during an average 11-hour period, it would cost Winnipeg industries $600,000 to ban trucks due to longer driving distances.
But Vandal is not backing down on the issue.
On Tuesday, Vandal said the issue was "a no-brainer."
On Thursday, Vandal said "I am concerned about both Provencher and Portage and Main and The Forks in between.
"I simply think we need to encourage a more pedestrian environment down the entire corridor... as we fast approach 2014, tractor-trailers and semi-trailers should not be at Portage and Main and Provencher Boulevard by extension."
Matt Allard, president of the Old St. Boniface Residents' Association, said area residents have been pushing the issue for years.
"We endorse the motion to ask the administration to ban truck traffic on Provencher," Allard said. "Generally this issue comes up at almost all of our residents' meetings.
"It's not something we are doing on a whim."
Allard said Provencher is changing with more coffee shops and outdoor caf©s on the street and they want to encourage other traffic rather than trucks.
"With the new pedestrian bridge and the new human rights museum, there's really a feeling we do want a Provencher more amenable to cyclists, pedestrians and coffee shops."
Ahmed Shalaby, head of the University of Manitoba's department of civil engineering, said truck routes are built to a higher standard than residential streets, but not much different than other busy roads.
Shalaby said the idea of banning trucks from areas of the city is not new because it has been done in other metropolitan areas in North America.
"In the end, you have to provide access to goods and services and activity. You are moving trucks from one road to the next."
If banning trucks from certain Winnipeg streets could dampen the local economy, is it worth it? Join the conversation in the comments below.