In September 2021, Council asked staff to investigate the idea of limiting idling for vehicles in the Town and at the CoW meeting on June 20, staff will present such a draft bylaw for approval. Staff also suggest an initial education campaign. The case for an anti-idling by-law is to reduce Green House gasses and improve air quality. There are many exceptions such as hot or cold weather (details below), Transit, police and more and enforcement would be difficult. As staff point out, the enforcement officer would have to watch a vehicle and time the duration of idling – although it’s suggested that the maximum idling permitted be only 2 minutes (and not 3 or 5 minutes as in other jurisdictions) to assist with this issue.
See by-law below for full list
- Fire, police, emergency medical service, public transit and municipal vehicles when idling is required for their function
- Vehicles that remain motionless because of traffic conditions or traffic controls
- During hot or cold weather (e.g. over 27°C or below 5°C)
- Where idling is necessary for maintenance or repair
- Vehicles in a parade or other event authorized by the municipality
- Armoured vehicles, where a person remains inside guarding the contents, or while the vehicle is being loaded or unloaded.
It’s hard to imagine how such a by-law would be enforced. How can you tell if a car is idling from a distance? Maybe that’s why staff are emphasizing the plan to implement public education. Staff are aware of the problem – their report to Council lists the difficulties:
Issues relating to enforcement of vehicle idling include:
- Officer must observe vehicle for the entire time limit;
- Ticket must be served to the driver which lengthens wait for unoccupied vehicles;
- Drivers can turn off their engines when they see the officer;
- Uncertainty about applicability of exemptions (i.e., temperature).
It’s suggested that enforcement be
- Primarily undertaken reactively to complaints and
- Proactively based on the availability of staff resources.
Fines suggested are: $60 or $100 if you “contravene an order”.
Given the exceptions and the difficulty of enforcement, it seems that the suggested bylaw would have minimal impact. The proposed bylaw and the Staff memo explaining it are available from the Resources below.
One thing that’s not mentioned is that most new cars now have a feature that they normally will automatically shut-down the engine when stopped and restart as required – so the default is “No idling”.
It remains to be seen whether Councillors will approve the proposed By-Law – but they did ask for it! Stay tuned.
Update – 21 June 2022
At the Committee of the Whole meeting on June 20, Council approved preparation of the by-law without debate. It will now be ratified at the regular Council meeting on June 27.