Idling By-Law – 60 Seconds per Hour

Update: See previous posts – Nov.17/10, April 26/10,

Tomorrow on Monday, May 3, 2010 the City of Toronto’s Board of Health will decide in a meeting if the current anti-idling by-law should be reduced from three (3) minutes to 60 seconds. Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health has issued a number of reports (see May 25, 2005 report, see September 9, 2005 report, see November 2, 2009 report) to the Board of Health, in an effort to improve enforcement of the idling control by-law.

Dr. David McKeown won’t be happy until the 3 minute idle time (per hour)  is reduced to 60 seconds per hour and the exemptions for TTC vehicles and the exemptions for motorists when there are extreme hot or cold temperatures ( in excess of 27 degrees Celsius or less than 5 degrees Celsius) are permanently eliminated.

Dr. David McKeown is upset that over the last five (5) years, there have only been 370 tickets issued, with regard to the contravention of this by-law , with a total payable fine of $125.00. This infraction carries with it a $ 105.00 fine (excluding the victim fine surcharge and court fee), but can be as high as a five thousand ($5,000.00) fine. He plans on remedying this, by having parking enforcement officers (green hornets) enforce this new and improved by-law.

Dr. David McKeown’s ambitions may be dashed however, given that this change would have to come to a vote in City Council.

Elections for the City of Toronto Mayor and City Councillor’s are taking place on October 25, 2010. There are a number of councillors who consider this change to be ridiculous and have gone on record as being opposed to it.  Every incumbent running will have to live with his or her record on City Council and may have to explain to his or her constitutents why they decided to support or not support this drastically modified by-law.

The City of Toronto was the first city in Canada, fourteen years ago, to implement a by-law, prohibiting motor vehicles from idling within the boundaries of the city, 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.

No one will suggest that idling a motor vehicle is either good for the motor vehicle, or for anyone or anything living in the environment, including the environment itself. Idling burns fuel at twice the rate of average traveling speeds (idling for 10 seconds produces more CO2 and uses more fuel than it takes to start your vehicle’s engine ) and emissions are greater and this operation of the vehicle, while it is running. causes additional wear and tear on your vehicle.

Courtesy of Citizens Environment Alliance, Idle-Free Windsor
Courtesy of Citizens Environment Alliance, Idle-Free Windsor

Alternatives to Anti-Idling Laws:
Electric Motor Vehicles or EV’s are the answer to the fuel powered engine responsible for so much of the carbon dioxide emissions. If EV’s replace the current motor vehicles fuelled by oil & gas, idling laws wouldn’t be necessary.

Japan is committed to reducing CO2 emissions by twenty-five percent (25%) below 1990 levels by the year 2020.

Although cabs make up just 2 percent of vehicles in Japan, they account for 20 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions, said Kiyotaka Fujii, President of Better Place Japan. Three electric cabs began a 90-day trial in Tokyo on April 26, 2010 that officials and the company involved say could eventually lead to the electrification of the city’s entire taxi fleet. The cabs run on lithium-ion batteries that can be changed in less than one minute with a fully charged one. The charge starts running low after 300 kilometers (190 miles), according to Better Place, the California-based electric-vehicle services provider that’s part of the government-backed project.

Japan is home to some of the world’s top automakers, including Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., which are taking orders for electric vehicles from regular car buyers.

Five myths about electric cars.

More myths busted about electric cars.

Update: May 3, 2010 – The City of Toronto’s “Board of Health” has voted in favour of reducing the idling time from three (3) minutes per hour, down to one (1) minute.The Board of Health also recommended eliminating the exemption for motorist’s idling their engines on very cold or very hot days. The other exemption that it wants to eliminate is the one currently on the books for TTC vehicles (that allow them to idle their engines up to 15 minutes ) and replaced with an updated exemption that will say that transit vehicles can only run while stopped for “an identified need”. The Board of Health also recognizes that those who are currently charged with the enforcement of this by-law (namely Police Officers and the City of Toronto’s Transportation Department’s Staff) are not enforcing this by-law in the serious manner (combined they generate about 76 tickets a year) in which it was intended and are therefore requesting that City Council apply to the Province to amend the legislation to allow green hornets (parking enforcement officers) to enforce this by-law, along with the parking laws that they currently enforce. The Board of Health is also encouraging regular blitzes in the enforcement of this anti-idling by-law.

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  1. My brother recommended I would possibly like this web site. He used to be entirely right. This publish truly made my day. You can not believe just how so much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  2. The idling bylaw is a total farce. With only three people to enforce idling in the entire GTA on TOP of their regular overburdened positions in the Transportation and Right Of Way Management, they can only respond to and efect action against less than one percent of all calls they receive, and they never receive all calls because their voice mail is always full. City councill has intentionally made this bylaw unenfoceable by refusing to allow additional staff, by refusing to allow parking control to issue such tickets, and by refusing to give sufficient power to the Trans. R.O.W. Mgt. to prosecute. Warnings NEVER prevent idling, only encourage it, especially with commercial vehicles.

    In addition, the city publishes that “311” and the Toronto police force will both respond to idling complaints, a total out and out LIE!!!!! The police flatly refuse to attend idling calls for ANY reason and Toronto “311” says that they have nothing to do with idling complaints. And try to find the “Anti Idling Hotline Complaint phone number. Near impossible.

    We have submitted dozens of complaints in the last five years with only ONE known action taken, and have been unable to submit a couple of hundred more. We have commercial trucks idling for up to hours at a time, often SEVERAL at a time, usually with NO occupants in the cab, going on for over five years now, and it’s gotten far worse. The mayor’s and cuncillor’s offices call this “progress” and indicate a desire NOT to stop the idling.

    Get rid of crooked mayors, councillors and city staff if you want enforcement of any kind.

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