City council passed a motion at its committee of the whole meeting Tuesday evening to approve nine-axle trucks inside the city limits to access the mills.
Members made the decision after hearing a presentation from Tolko, with input from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
The motion will now have to go to the next regular council meeting for final approval.
City council is weighing the options of permitting nine-axle logging trucks on roads within Williams Lake’s city limits.
Staff has been working with Tolko Industries to review the possibility and was expected to discuss it at Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting.
Tolko’s manager of external and stakeholder relations, Tom Hoffman, said industry has been advocating for the use of nine-axle vehicles for five years and are already using 10-axle units in Alberta.
“This isn’t rocket science, this is just bringing us into an equilibrium with other jurisdictions,” Hoffman said.
Theoretically there would be less trucks on the road because nine-axle units can transport more logs at one time. The other advantage is a resulting five per cent reduction in weight on each axle.
“Even though they haul more, there is a reduction so there’s less impact to the roads and with nine axles, instead of eight, there is more braking power,” Hoffman explained. “We also use less fuel per unit per payload. More cubic metres on the truck and we actually burn less fuel than an eight-axle.”
The city’s director of municipal services said he has several concerns about allowing nine-axle logging trucks on city roads.
“We have established a route for them, for the most part on Mackenzie Avenue and Highway 20, and they talk about the weight being distributed over more axles, but there is more to it than that,” Gary Muraca said Tuesday. “It is still more loads on the road.”
Additionally, the report from Tolko is talking about everybody having nine-axle logging trucks and having less trucks on the road, but at this point everyone doesn’t have a nine-axle logging truck, Muraca said.
“Until that time we will not be reducing the amount of trucks on the roads because that will be years and years down the road.”
He is also concerned that because the nine axles have more horsepower and better brakes, it could potentially cause damage to roads because when the truck takes off from a stop it shoves the asphalt.
“The tires turn so hard with so much torque they will push the asphalt or when they stop with so much weight they will push the asphalt forward.”
During a committee of the whole meeting in December, council approved the use of the nine-axle logging trucks subject to some pre-engineering reports.
“At this time, the company satisfied our concerns because when frost is in the ground there’s more stability, but when the frost comes out of the ground, that’s when we are going to need the rest of the engineering,” Muraca explained.
Right now the trucks can travel along Highway 20 to the Tolko Lakeview Division because they are permitted on Highway 20 but if the city gives industry permission then the logging trucks will be able to access the Soda Creek Division.
Muraca said Tuesday’s committee of the whole discussion would be looking at the social and economic impacts on the community of allowing the trucks.
“We have real concerns about Dog Creek Road and Soda Creek Road,” he added.