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Calgary considers ban on engine idling

By Canadian Press Dec 6, 2002

CALGARY (CP) -- Motorists who warm up their cars before driving on frigid winter days could face heavy fines if they let their engines idle too long under a Calgary city council proposal aimed at reducing air pollution.

The city's environment committee ordered a draft bylaw Wednesday to prohibit motorists from needlessly idling their engines or driving smoke-spewing oil burners.

Bill Bruce, manager of bylaw services, is confident Calgarians will accept such a bylaw.

"I don't think this will be controversial," he said. "I don't think you'll find anyone who thinks smoking cars or excessive idling is OK."

One alderman suggested establishing a special hotline to deal with complaints about unlawful idlers.

"We have to make sure our air is clean enough not to be a health issue to people," Ald. Barry Erskine said.

If approved, Bruce said the bylaw would be enforced like any other.

"It will be enforced on an opportunistic and a complaint basis," Bruce said. "If someone sees their neighbour idling their car for an hour-and-a-half every morning, we'll be able to take action."

The city appears to be following the example set by other cities such as Toronto, where drivers face fines of up to $2,000 for letting their vehicles idle for more than three minutes.

An education program would be a large part of the city's effort. Bruce said information provided by engine manufacturers states modern vehicles don't need to warm up for more than a few minutes, even in winter.

"It's been proven that after 15 or 20 seconds, it's cheaper to shut the engine off and restart it later," Bruce said.

"We want to get rid of this old myth that it's cheaper to idle your vehicle than to start and stop it," he said.

The idea was put forward in June by Ald. Druh Farrell, who said that while motor vehicle emissions are under provincial jurisdiction, the city can take a stand against potential health hazards to its citizens. City staff are to bring an education plan and draft bylaws to the committee by June.

A city study five years ago found that eight per cent of Calgary's vehicles are considered "gross polluters," producing more than half of the emissions pumped into the local atmosphere.

Canadian drivers idle their engines an average of five to 10 minutes a day in winter, totalling more than 75 million idling minutes every day, or one vehicle left idling for 144 years, according to the federal Department of Natural Resources.

A federal government Web site says if every driver of a light-duty truck in Calgary avoided idling for five minutes a day, the city could prevent the emission of 154 tonnes of carbon dioxide each day, or about 56,000 tonnes over the course of a year. That would result in a savings of 65,000 litres of fuel at a cost of $48,700, according to the Web site.

Barb Kinnie, spokeswoman for the Chinook chapter of the Sierra Club of Canada, said she'd like to see new laws implemented sooner, but feels the city is going in the right direction.

"It's pretty clear that emissions are a health issue. Over 5,000 Canadians die prematurely each year from air pollution," Kinnie said.

Randy Loyk, the Alberta Motor Association's technical services manager, agreed but said Canadians have to be able to let their cars warm up in winter.

"You definitely want to reduce idling time, but you can't just run them cold because the oil is thick and that's hard on engine components," he said.

"My rule of thumb is to let a vehicle warm up enough to safely see out of the window glass before you drive away."

(Calgary Herald) „þì

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Wow. I wonder how many people in Ottawa idle thier cars in the winter for longer than 10 minutes to warm them up?

I can understand Calgarians idling their cars for less time than Ottawans, as it is colder here in winter, (or so I've been told).

"My rule of thumb is to let a vehicle warm up enough to safely see out of the window glass before you drive away."

LOL: DO NOT let this get out!!! [smile] Or there'll be even more of those idiots driving around in their minivans with a foot of snow on the top, with a only a six inch spot scraped clear on their windsheild!

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My friend Sue is a 20-minute car warmer-upper. She lets all the snow melt off her car. She says that she hates shoveling it off, when she can sit in her kitchen and have another cup of coffee instead.

I, on the other hand, am usually running way too late to let my car idle for longer than the time it takes for me to quickly clean the snow off; about three minutes, tops. So, no fines for me.

The by-law seems like a good idea to me; one small step in reducing pollution and the greenhouse effect.

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I agree, anything that can help cut down on the greenhouse effect is agood thing. Unfortunately, the little man in the White House doesn't seem to agree. As far as OPEC goes, once they've turned Alaska into a giant oil-drilling field and Bagdad has the stars and stripes flying overhead W. wont need them.Peace.

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I know that there are a number of cities that aer also considering banning drive-through windows for similar reasons. For all the times that I've pulled up to a window and been served immediately, there sure have been an awful lot of times that I've had to wait ten minutes. A lot of the time, it really is a lot faster to just go inside...


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Banning drive through windows is essential to make this whole by law thing work, and reducing emmissions from idling cars. Drive throughs are convenient, yes-- but the epitome of laziness. Especially bank machine drive throughs. Just get out of the car and go in to the bank or Tim Horton's, damnit!

I, for one, would like to be able to walk to the bank in 25 years without having to take my own oxygen.

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