Thunder Bay

Designated truck route vote deferred by Thunder Bay City Council

Thunder Bay's designated truck route has hit another bump in the road, as city councillors again deferred voting on the long-in-development bylaw on Monday.

Councillor found in conflict of interest during Monday night meeting

Thunder Bay City Council deferred voting on the designated truck route at Monday's meeting. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

Thunder Bay's designated truck route has hit another bump in the road, as city councillors again deferred voting on the long-in-development bylaw on Monday.

Council has been working to implement the designated trucking route for years. The route will effectively force transports off of Highway 102 and West Arthur Street, and onto Highway 11/17. It would also restrict transports from operating on numerous city streets, except for local deliveries.

The route itself got council approval in January 2019, but council has since been unable to decide on what, specifically, the bylaw will contain.

The matter is currently scheduled to come back before council by Dec. 2.

"I'm perfectly happy with [the bylaw],"  said at-large Councillor Trevor Giertuga. "I think it addresses some of the concerns that were brought up from the deputations previously."

The designated trucking route has also led to a conflict-of-interest ruling against McKellar Ward Councillor Brian Hamilton.

The complaint was filed by Giertuga, who said it resulted from a council meeting in June.

"Councillor Hamilton was speaking with the Chamber of Commerce, and he specifically asked [chamber president Charla Robinson] would the designated truck route affect the cost of his ... business," Giertuga said. "And he was told yes, it would."

"From that point, he continued to speak on it, and vote on it."

Giertuga said he advised Hamilton about the potential conflict, and said Hamilton should either refrain from speaking on the matter, or clarify his earlier statements. That didn't happen, and Giertuga filed a complaint with the city's integrity commissioner.

"As councillors, we have an obligation to our citizens, to have open, ethical, transparent representation," Giertuga. "I truly believe in the code of conduct, its policies and procedures, and the conflict of interest legislation."

The commissioner, who is independent, subsequently ruled that Hamilton was in conflict.

However, under the legislation, Hamilton still has a choice as to whether or not he'll abide by the ruling, and declare a conflict when the designated truck route comes before council in the future.

On Tuesday, Hamilton told CBC News he's seeking advice on the ruling, and hadn't decided what he'll do.

However, he called the ruling "absurd."

"To think that I would sell my integrity out to save 25 cents on a delivery cost," he said. "Nothing in the language of the bylaw would have any unforeseen implications for my business operations."

Hamilton also said his refraining from voting on the bylaw in the future would likely lead to a stalemate at council.

Giertuga said concerns over conflicts of interest were also behind the deferral.

"I think that some of the councillors may have wanted to get advice themselves on conflict of interest ... before they voted on it," he said.