Galt residents, businesses were hoping more big trucks would be off the downtown streets by now

‘I’m so tired of asking residents to have patience. We’ve had patience for years,’ says one resident

People living and working in Galt are voicing frustration that it appears many transport trucks are still making their way through the downtown area despite new regulations.

Matt Rollemen, who owns and operates 13 Food and Beverage, said he has seen some reduction to the number of trucks where his business is located on the corner of Water Street North and Main Street. But he said he would have liked to see fewer trucks one month into the diversion program.

“I’m in my restaurant on the second floor right now and I’m watching a big, old truck driving by right now,” Rollemen told CBC News.

“We would like to continue to see a decrease. I don’t think downtown Kitchener or uptown Waterloo have major trucks, other than delivery trucks driving through the downtown. It takes away from the atmosphere.”

Regional council passed a motion in August to divert transport trucks from the downtown with enforcement starting in October. Under the new rules, no heavy trucks are allowed on:

  •  Water Street from Ainslie Street South to Coronation Boulevard and Dundas Street.
  •  Ainslie Street South from Concession Street to Water Street.
  • Myers Road from Water Street to Franklin Boulevard.
  • Concession Street from Ainslie Street South to Dundas Street.

Trucks have been diverted to McQueen Shaver Boulevard. Trucks making deliveries to downtown businesses are still allowed. 

Waterloo Regional Police Service has been enforcing the new regulations and educating truck drivers since October. The region said signs have been set up at the entrance points of where trucks are not allowed.

Police were asked to pause enforcement as regional crews refined the signage, which the region said only took a couple of days based on feed back from truck drivers and police.

‘Be patient. We’re going to get there’

Cambridge Ward 4 Coun. Ross Earnshaw said he understands the community’s frustration. He too said he has noticed some reduction, but not at the level he was hoping to see by now.

Because Highway 24 is so close to the downtown, the issue of big trucks in Galt goes back decades, Coun. Earnshaw said. 

“I think with the anticipation that has accompanied this bylaw and the expectation that the trucks would banish overnight, people are just more attuned to the fact that there are trucks going by,” he said.

“My message to business owners and the general public is:┬ábe patient. We’re going to get there. This is a huge change in driving behaviour.”

Kornel Mucsi, manager of transportation planning for the region, has a similar message. He told CBC News in an email statement that the scope of the truck ban is significant and establishing new driving patterns will likely take months.

But Galt resident Colleen Smith said she’s “fed up with being patient.” She has lived on Ainslie Street for 15 years and has described her experience as like living on a highway.

“The traffic hasn’t diminished and I looked for the signs, and as of last week, I didn’t see any,” she told CBC News.

“I’m so tired of asking residents to have patience. We’ve had patience for years.”

She said she’s worried for the safety of her community with the number of transport trucks driving by and the speed of some of the vehicles on the road.

“You feel the wind of the trucks passing and I’ve always found Ainslie [Street] worse than Water Street,” she said.

Smith added she hoped enforcement would have been stronger when it came to keeping trucks away from the downtown.

“When you put a policy in place, you need to be able to enforce it and make it happen,” she said. “Yes it is a big change in driving habits, but it’s been in the books for years. I think it was lack of planning.”