Some twenty years ago, I had to curtail my farming operation because of excessively aggressive truckers on highway 17. Now it looks like I have to put my life on hold because of the hazard of trying to get across the highway, same cause.
Let me explain. I had to move my combine between farms, and back, on the highway each fall. It was wide enough to take the whole traffic lane, plus the shoulder, and did about 13 miles per hour. On the prairies, long-haul truckers would patiently slow to 13 miles per hour behind such a machine, to wait for a break in oncoming traffic so they could pass, just part of doing business on a two-lane highway. Here in the boreal forest they seemed to think farm machinery had no business being on the highway at all, and would take great liberty with my safety, including passing so close I could touch a mirror from the driver’s seat, while an oncoming car had to take to the shoulder. They just thought I had no business being there, and acted as though I was invisible.
Yesterday, March 26, I am doing 50 in the commercial stretch of the TransCanada, when a long-haul rig comes roaring up behind me doing at least 70 kliks, doesn’t even think about slowing down for the old fellow doing the speed limit, but pulls out and passes on the right, making the single lane into two lanes. Even though the lane is narrowed by the snowbank and he is so close his mirror passes OVER my car. Had I panicked and wobbled a bit when he disappeared out of my mirrors, I would be dead.
Then I am sitting at the light, top of the subway, light on 17 turns orange. I see two oncoming trucks which have no intention of stopping, light is red before the first one gets through, and the second one goes through too!
This is just two things that happened to me today, I expect many drivers are seeing this kind of thing every day. And then the news comes that another of our citizens has been killed in a truck-local vehicle collision.
It seems apparent that the long-haul truck community have adopted the same attitude toward local traffic as they adopted toward local farm machinery those years ago, we have no business being here, they will ignore us and if necessary run over us.
Alex Wilson famously used to say that governments drive our ship of state into the future by looking in the rear view mirror, and that is certainly true with regard to development of the TransCanada highway in Ontario. It is decades since local people, Municipalities and Chambers of Commerce, started calling for upgrading the highway to somewhere approaching the standard of other provinces, stonewalled by the government attitude that we rustic rubes should not even be here. Finally, a few years ago the province reluctantly agreed that maybe something has to be done. However, they now seem quite content, and are doing nothing about the project being stalled over a sacred blueberry-picking ground — even the band who put this notion forward are rolling in the aisles laughing at the joke they have played.
So, it is life or death, us versus them, locals versus truckers. Is anybody out there with me in saying we need to support Mayor Canfield of Kenora and Mayor Avis of Fort Frances — it is time to investigate divorcing our piece of the world from Ontario?