“Your town is kind of blowing up on social media as being unfriendly to truckers.”
This is how Pete Turner – retired trucker, trucking industry lobbyist and operator of the website, The Reality of Trucking –introduces himself in a Tuesday, July 23 telephone call to the Observer.
Turner said he represents a lot of commercial truckers across Canada, and some of those truckers have been speaking unfavourably about Salmon Arm – enough for him to pick up the phone and start making calls.
He says the main concern is there’s nowhere in Salmon Arm where truckers feel welcome to stop and grab a coffee or a bite to eat.
“There’s a lot of towns like this, but Salmon Arm right now is the one that’s blowing up, that and 100 Mile House,” said Turner. “When we pull over to get a coffee, it’s because we’re tired and we need nourishment… to keep alert. We get out of the truck and when we come back, we have a $300 ticket for stopping.
“To me, it’s better to be able pull over to grab a coffee and a sandwich, just get out of the truck, stretch our legs and that kind of thing, than it is to fall asleep behind the wheel of a truck and kill somebody.”
Turner noted truckers are especially drawn to Tim Hortons and, in Salmon Arm, access involves either parking on the highway or pulling off into a mall.
Turner also took a shot at Sicamous, where no-parking signage was recently set up along a section of the eastbound shoulder of Highway 1 near Tim Hortons where truckers would often park.
Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison was also on Turner’s list of people to call. In their conversation, Harrison said he told Turner about how he sees trucks pulling off at the SmartCentres mall, which is a little easier to access. He also shared with Turner the city’s future plans for a truck and RV stop/pull-out and tourist information centre.
“He really liked the idea… that would be easier for trucks,” said Harrison. “That’s really what I think he’s lobbying for in communities. Fort Nelson has a really great one where it’s easy for trucks to get in and out and they can rest there and have their coffee and all that kind of thing. So I think that would be the ideal solution.”
Harrison said Turner would share with his members that they might try stopping at the west end of town for nourishment.
Turner described his conversation with Harrison as mostly positive, and suggested some effort by the city might help.
“If a guy sees it (Tim Hortons) in a mall they won’t go because they don’t think they’re allowed to,” said Turner, who suggested signs be put up in town along the highway saying where truckers are welcome. “Give us some direction. All we see is no parking, no parking no parking.”
As for Sicamous, the no-parking signs were set up after a tractor-trailer collided with a scooter resulting in life-threatening injury. Mayor Terry Rysz recognizes truckers would like to be able to park and have access Tim Hortons, and said that is a conversation being had with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“Hopefully we can find a formula in which we can expand, maybe a pull out, but that conversation is happening with the ministry,” said Rysz. “For the interim, because of what’s taken place, you know, the no-parking signs will stay in place until we can find an alternative for parking in that particular area.”