Don’t expect a ticket if Kelowna brings in anti-idling bylaw | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Don’t expect a ticket if Kelowna brings in anti-idling bylaw

Image Credit: UPSPLASH/Matt Boitor
May 12, 2021 - 7:00 PM

The idea of a ban on idling vehicles has been around for a long time and such bans are in place in 30 B.C. communities, including Kamloops.

It's been talked about in the Central Okanagan for at least three years but it may finally see the light of day in Kelowna this year.

But, even if such a bylaw is passed, it will be more for educational purposes than punishment, Jerry Dombowsky, the City of Kelowna’s transit and programs manager told today, May 12.

“It would kind of be like our non-smoking bylaw for parks and open spaces,” Dombowsky said. “That’s very effective in our transit exchange, because we have legitimized the action of non-smoking. Have we ever had a ticket written for it? No. Not to my knowledge. Never. But it’s used all the time and people know, not only is it not polite to smoke, also there’s a bylaw against it.”

The idea of banning idling was included in the regional Air Quality Program three years ago. It’s also in the City of Kelowna’s Climate Action Plan which has yet to be enacted.

Dombowsky is going to present an update of the Air Quality Program to the Regional District of the Central Okanagan tomorrow, May 12.

That plan has 23 actions that range from things like chipping rather than burning wood waste from orchards to radon testing. A ban on vehicles idling is just one of those actions, some of which have already been put in place.

The plan is to have Kelowna draft an anti-idling bylaw to run as a pilot project for the region. If Kelowna declines, then another municipality may be interested, he said.

If the concept is supported by the committee tomorrow, the rough timeline would be to draft a bylaw and get public input by next fall. The bylaw could be adopted in January 2022. That would be followed by a six-month public education period.

While many details, such as fine levels and length of idling time, still have to be worked out, Dombowsky’s proposal calls for a ban on vehicles idling for more than 60 seconds.

It would only apply to vehicles that are not in motion so vehicles stopped at traffic lights or in drive-thru lineups would be exempt. So would commercial vehicles that need to run for operational purposes, such as refrigerated trucks or ones that need to keep engines running in order to operate power equipment.

Where it might apply is in situations where someone warms a vehicle up outside the air intake to a building or keeps it running in a parking lot.

Some schools have no idling zones but this could apply to city streets outside those zones.

“Say you’re picking up your kids at school and it’s winter or it’s summer and you sit there and kids are walking and kids are biking and you’re idling your vehicle for 20 minutes – and believe me, there are a lot of parents who do this,” Dombowsky said. “That’s the sort of thing where, not only is it environmentally damaging but it’s also a nuisance.”

Many commercial trucking companies, along with the City of Kelowna in terms of its own vehicles and transit buses, already have no-idling policies so there is nothing new or unique about this, he said.

What is different from some is the length of the idle. The City of Kamloops is one of the few communities in the Interior that has a ban. It allows idling for three consecutive minutes before fines of $100 can be imposed.

Natural Resources Canada says that idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel and produces more carbon dioxide than restarting an engine, but the national standard is to allow for one minute of idling, Dombowsky said.

In his report, he estimates that between 2,500 and 15,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions could be cut throughout the regional district if people cut their idling time.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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