Anti-Idling Laws – Nova Scotia and Alberta Introduce Provincial Laws

Update: see previous posts – June 11, 2010 Idling Laws – Toronto, May 2, 2010-Idling By-Law – 60 Seconds per Hour, April 26, 2010 Idling Law to be Reduced to 60 Seconds per Hour, November 20, 2009-Drive-Thru’s to Fall Next in Anti-Idling War,  November 17, 2009 Idling Laws to become more Restrictive

Anti-idling policies minimize the release of particulate matter into the atmosphere.

The City of Toronto was the first city in Canada, fourteen years ago (in 1996) to implement a by-law, prohibiting motor vehicles from idling within the boundaries of Toronto, in an effort to reduce greenhouse emissions and the pollutants that accompany those emissions.

Since that time (1996) a number of other Canadian cities have passed similar by-laws within their cities (ie- Ajax, Burlington, Edmonton, Guelph, Hamilton, Hinton, Huntsville, Jasper, Kentville, King’s County, Kitchener, Kingston, London, Markham, Mississauga, Moncton, Montreal, Niagara Falls, North Vancouver, Oakville, Orangeville, Orillia, Ottawa, Peterborough, Pickering, Richmond, Sarnia, Stratford, Toronto, Vancouver, Vaughan, Victoria, Waterloo, Whitchurch/Stouffville, Winnipeg, Windsor & Woodstock). See “An Anti-Idling Campaign Guide for Municipalities” from British Columbia.

Over 42 American States have these laws on the books; most of these anti-idling laws target large trucks and commercial vehicles. New York has had anti-idling laws on the books for thirty-nine (39) years, but these laws are seldomly enforced. Anti-idling laws in other countries.

The City of Toronto, City Council voted 24-13 in favour of amending Toronto’s Anti-Idling By-Law. Toronto reduced their Idling Law from three (3) minutes down to one (1) minute, effective May 3, 2010. When the Toronto Idling By-Law was amended on May 3, 2010 a number of the previous exemptions (Toronto Transit Commission vehicles, idling in vehicle if the ambient temperature is too hold or cold) were deleted. Now a vehicle cannot “idle” in Toronto for more than 60 seconds and if they do, they may receive a $125.00 ticket. Prior to this By-Law being amended, on average, 74 idling tickets are handed out by the City of Toronto every year.

Ottawa has had a three (3) minute Anti-Idling By-Law in place since 2007 and found in May 2010 that only three (3) tickets had been issued over three (3) years.

Provincial Anti-Idling Legislation

Now Provinces, rather than cities or municipalities have taken the bold step of introducing legislation which would affect the entire Province.


– The first Province to introduce legislation on November 26, 2010 and to pass Anti-Idling Legislation which received Royal Assent and commenced on December 10, 2010.- This legislation targets:
“public passenger vehicles” which means:

  • a school bus, a tour bus, a transit bus, or any other motor vehicle, with a seating capacity of seventeen or more passengers
  • The Government of the Province and every person who owns, operates, manages or controls a public passenger vehicle shall establish in writing on or before October 1, 2011, and thereafter maintain in effect an anti-idling policy that promotes the reduction of unnecessary idling.


    –  A private member’s bill was introduced and received first reading on November 30, 2010. If this legislation survives the Alberta legislature, it calls for implementation on January 1, 2012.
    -This legislation targets:

  • Motor Vehicles idling for more than three (3) minutes in a sixty (60) minute period
  • Exemptions apply to the following vehicles:

  • vehicles assisting in an emergency activity (police,fire,ambulance, gas disconnection unit of public utility, vehicle used for public transportation)
  • exemption applies to all vehicles when the ambient temperature outside a vehicle is minus 23 degrees Celsius.
  • The following is the Anti-Idling legislation found on the websites of the Nova Scotia and Alberta Legislatures, beginning at Nova Scotia:


    Fewer idling vehicles will mean reduced harmful emissions and cleaner air for Nova Scotians.

    Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau introduced the Anti-idling Act today, Nov. 26, that would make Nova Scotia the first province to adopt such a law.

    “Nova Scotians expect this government to take a leadership role in matters related to climate change,” said Mr. Belliveau. “As a province, we can do better to reduce unnecessary and harmful vehicle emissions so we can improve air quality and quality of life for Nova Scotians today and over time.”

    The legislation will require school bus companies, tour bus companies and transit authorities to have an anti-idling policy in place by Oct. 1, 2011. The legislation will also require government to adopt an anti-idling policy for provincial vehicles.

    “An anti-idling policy will help move us towards our targets set out in the Climate Change Action Plan and Bill No. 146 The Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act,” said Mr. Belliveau.

    Nova Scotia’s Anti-Idling Fact Sheet reports the following:

  • Idling contributes to air pollution and children are particularly vulnerable. They breathe faster than adults and inhale more air per pound of body weight.
  • Canadian motorists idle their vehicles an average of five to 10 minutes per day.
  • A recent study suggests that in the peak of winter, Canadians voluntarily idle their vehicles for a combined total of more than 75 million minutes a day. This is equal to one vehicle idling for 144 years.
  • If 1,000 drivers avoided idling for 3 minutes a day it would reduce fuel use by almost 25,000 litres a year, saving them approximately $25,000 annually and reducing over 59,000 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
  • The following legislation was introduced into the Nova Scotia Legislature on November 26, 2010 and came into force on December 10, 2010:

    Bill No. 114
    Anti-idling Act
    An Act to Require an Anti-idling Policy for the Government of Nova Scotia and Public Passenger Vehicles

    Introduced by:
    Honourable Sterling Belliveau
    Minister of Environment

    First Reading November 26, 2010
    Second Reading Debates November 29, 2010
    November 30, 2010
    Second Reading Passed November 30, 2010
    Law Amendments Committee Print Submissions
    Meeting Date(s) December 3, 2010
    Reported to the House December 06, 2010
    Committee of the Whole House December 09, 2010
    Third Reading Debates
    Third Reading December 09, 2010
    Royal Assent December 10, 2010

    Commencement December 10, 2010

    2010 Statutes, Chapter 32 View

    BILL NO. 114
    Government Bill
    2nd Session, 61st General Assembly
    Nova Scotia
    59 Elizabeth II, 2010
    An Act to Require an Anti-idling Policy
    for the Government of Nova Scotia
    and Public Passenger Vehicles
    CHAPTER 32
    ACTS OF 2010

    DECEMBER 10, 2010
    The Honourable Sterling Belliveau
    Minister of Environment

    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Printed by Authority of the Speaker of the House of Assembly

    An Act to Require an Anti-idling Policy
    for the Government of Nova Scotia
    and Public Passenger Vehicles
    WHEREAS vehicle exhaust emissions are a source of air pollution;
    AND WHEREAS idling worsens the problem significantly;
    AND WHEREAS reducing idling is a cost-effective and easy way to reduce greenhouse
    gases and air pollutants;
    AND WHEREAS reducing engine idling will also reduce wear and tear on engine parts and
    save money by conserving fuel;
    THEREFORE be it enacted by the Governor and Assembly as follows:

    1 This Act may be cited as the Anti-idling Act.

    2 In this Act,
    (a) “idling” means the operation of the engine of a motor vehicle while the vehicle is not in motion and not being used to operate auxiliary equipment that is essential to the basic function of the vehicle;

    (b) “public passenger vehicle” means
    (i) a school bus,
    (ii) a tour bus,
    (iii) a transit bus, or
    (iv) any other motor vehicle, with a seating capacity of seventeen or more passengers, operated upon any highway by or on behalf of a person carrying on the business of a public carrier of passengers or of passengers and freight;

    (c) “school bus” means a motor vehicle, operated by or under an arrangement with a school board as defined in the Education Act, for transporting pupils and teachers to and from school or for any school purpose, including the transportation of pupils and teachers to and from school social, dramatic, musical or athletic functions or competitions, teacher institutes and similar activities;

    (d) “tour bus” means a motor vehicle of a design commonly known in the transportation industry as a highway coach, an intercity coach or an intercity motor bus, whether the vehicle is used or intended for use on scheduled routes or for charters, tours, sightseeing trips or another purpose;

    (e) “transit bus” means a motor vehicle operated by a public utility, as defined in the Public Utilities Act.

    3 The Government of the Province and every person who owns, operates, manages or controls a public passenger vehicle shall establish in writing on or before October 1, 2011, and thereafter maintain in effect an anti-idling policy that promotes the reduction of unnecessary idling.


    MLA Dave Taylor has proposed anti-idling legislation that would limit motorists idling their vehicles for no longer than three (3) minutes within a one-hour period or they would face a $100 fine. Exemptions in this legislation would cover Emergency Vehicles (police, fire and ambulance) and Public Transit vehicles and any vehicle that would idle in ambient temperatures of -23 degrees Celsius.

    On November 30, 2010 Independent MLA, Dave Taylor, representing Calgary-Currie introduced his private member’s bill for its’ first reading, which reads as follows:

    BILL 230
    First Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Second Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Committee of the Whole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
    Third Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Royal Assent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Bill 230

    BILL 230

    (Assented to , 2010)
    HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, enacts as follows:


    (a) “idle” means to operate the engine of a motor vehicle while the vehicle is not in motion; In this Act,
    (b) “motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle as defined in the Traffic Safety Act.

    Idling prohibited

    (1) Subject to subsection (2), no person shall cause or permit a motor vehicle to idle for more than 3 minutes in a 60-minute period.

    (2) Subsection (1) does not apply

    (a) when the following vehicles are assisting in an emergency activity:
    (i) a vehicle operated by a police service as defined in the Police Act;
    (ii) a firefighting or other type of vehicle operated by the fire protection service of a municipality;
    (iii) an ambulance operated by a person or organization providing ambulance services;
    (iv) a vehicle operated as a gas disconnection unit of a public utility;
    (v) a vehicle designated by regulation as an emergency response unit;
    (b) to a vehicle being used for public transportation;
    (c) when the ambient temperature outside a vehicle is below minus 23 degrees Celsius.


    A person who contravenes section 2 is guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine of not less than $100.

    Coming into force

    This Act comes into force on January 1, 2012.

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    5. Four things:
      1. It’s been added in small town bylaws as well, sometimes more or less strict. I honestly can’t keep track of all the rules.
      2. This is unenforceable, unless an officer waits near idling cars to witness it idling for the full time period, or if the limit is set absurdly low (eg. Alberta’s 3 minutes)
      3. If I want to burn gasoline that I own, I should be within my rights to do so in any way I wish.
      4. Odd, how these rules never apply to government vehicles.

      The laws have good motives. Idling a car is wasteful, and the government wants to save my money by altering the environment less. However, I have the right to burn everything else I own, and the government has no right to interfere based on subjective judgments of value and waste. For example, in -22c weather, I find value in running a car >3min where the government may not. If the government wants to alter public behaviours, consider an education campaign, not hassling and taxing people. Laws that limit freedom based on environmental reasoning are politely known as “environmental authoritarianism”, and while I completely agree with the sentiments of conservation and efficiency, the laws are unjust.

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