One Permit to Rule Them All: Amendments to Long Combination Vehicle (LCV) Regulations in Quebec

On November 28, 2019, amendments to the Special Road Train Operating Permits Regulation[1] (the “Regulation”) came into force, creating significant changes for operators and drivers of Long Combination Vehicles (“LCV”s) in Quebec. LCVs are a combination of a tractor and more than one semi-trailer, connected either directly or with a dolly. LCVs allow for the transportation of large quantities of low-weight freight.

Among the most important changes to Quebec’s permitting system for LCVs are year-round permits that are now valid in winter, permission to drive on Sundays, new fee calculation rules; and new documentation requirements that include a list of safe winter stopping locations.

This article outlines the key changes to the Regulation and follows up on our May 18, 2018 blog article.

It should be noted that each special road train operating permit is valid for one LCV and not for an LCV fleet as a whole, and is required in addition to the licence and registration of each LCV component. However, a special road train permit for one of the components of the LCV is sufficient to allow the entire LCV to operate. In other words, obtaining an LCV permit in respect of a dolly allows the carrier to operate any two trailers in an “A-train” or “C-train” type of LCV, according to the type of dolly.

Validity Period

As mentioned, one significant amendment to the Regulation involves the validity period of special road train operating permits. Previously, the special permits issued by Quebec’s transportation ministry (the “Ministry”) were valid for a maximum of 9 consecutive months between March 1st and November 30. To operate an LCV between December and February, a winter permit was available through one of the Ministry’s “pilot projects” under section 633 of the Highway Safety Code.

Since the recent amendments came into force, LCV permits are now valid for up to twelve consecutive months.[2] In practice, LCVs will now be able to operate in winter and in summer with the same permit.

Sunday Driving

While LCV operators still may not operate LCVs on holidays or on December 26, they are now allowed to do so on Sundays.[3]

Safe Winter Stopping Locations

To protect LCV drivers and other road users in winter, the amendments also provide that the holder of a permit allowing operation between December 1 and February 29 must draw up a list of safe stopping locations and related information for each route they plan to take. These locations must allow drivers to stop the LCV in the event of unforeseeable deterioration of weather, road conditions, or visibility.[4] The permit holder is also required to verify weather and road conditions at most three hours before each departure, in accordance with certain procedures.[5] While these items were already required for special winter permits under the pilot project, they will now be contained directly in the Regulation. Furthermore, unlike the previous winter permit system, carriers no longer have to provide their list of stops to the Ministry when applying for the permit. (In some situations, they may be required to provide it afterwards if requested to do so by the Ministry, a highway controller, or any other peace officer.[6]) On the whole, these amendments facilitate the permit application process.

Online Registration

LCV permit applicants are now required to register on the Ministry’s permit management website, in addition to paying the applicable fees and providing the required information.[7]

Calculation of Fees

Calculation of fees for the issue of a special permit looks complex under the Regulation, but in practical terms, the fees are calculated as follows: $119 + (number of months to be authorized x $14.67). Operators can thus expect to pay $295 for a 12-month permit for a single LCV.

Conclusion

With these regulatory amendments, the Government of Quebec has responded to the trucking industry’s request to allow LCV operators to drive in winter and on Sundays with a single permit. In keeping its commitment to road safety, the Government has incorporated into the Regulation a pilot-project requirement for special road train operating permit holders to draw up a list of safe winter stopping locations.

These amendments are also noteworthy in that they harmonize Quebec’s regulations with Ontario’s in several respects. Indeed, Ontario’s Long Combination Vehicle Program also allows for driving on Sundays, other than during long weekends,  and allows for year-round permits. LCVs in Ontario can drive in the winter unless roads are partly snow covered, fully snow covered, snow packed, icy, or there is a road closure or reduced visibility. In such situations, however, rather than having to stop at a pre‑identified safe stopping location like in Quebec, Ontario drivers must proceed to the nearest rest/emergency stop or the nearest point off the travelled portion of the highway that is considered to be sufficiently removed from traffic so as not to constitute a hazard. Rest and emergency stops are identified by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and attached to each road train permit. This harmonization is not surprising, given that both Ontario and Quebec  are parties to the Harmonization of Special Permit Conditions for Operation of Long Combination Vehicles in Eastern Canada, a memorandum of understanding agreed to by the relevant members of the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) in January 2016.

McCarthy Tétrault’s Transportation and Logistics Group regularly advises shippers, brokers and carriers on the provincial regulations required to licence and operate LCVs throughout Canada. For more information, please contact David F. Blair or Brian Lipson.

[1] Special Road Train Operating Permits Regulation, CQLR c C-24.2, r 36.

[2] Regulation to amend the Special Road Train Operating Permits Regulation, Gazette officielle du Québec, Part II, Volume 151, No. 46, p. 2790, 13 November 2019, Section 6.

[3] Ibid., Section 7.

[4] Ibid., Section 5.

[5] Ibid., Section 8.

[6] Ibid., Section 5.

[7] Ibid., Section 1.

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