Idle talk

Teaching people and businesses how much money they can save is, for now, the main thrust in the City of Red Deer’s effort to cut back on idling of motor vehicles.

Teaching people and businesses how much money they can save is, for now, the main thrust in the City of Red Deer’s effort to cut back on idling of motor vehicles.

City Council and environmental services staff have been working on a bylaw aimed at penalizing people who let their vehicles idle when they should be shut off.

On Monday, council agreed with a recommendation by the Environmental Advisory Committee to defer the bylaw until some time next year and work on a public campaign exercise in the meantime.

An education campaign is still being developed for both individuals and businesses and will also include a school component, said Pam Vust, environmental initiatives co-ordinator for the city.

A staff report filed for council’s information states that the city saved $72,338 in 2009 through an anti-idling policy established for city vehicles.

The report goes on to state that an education campaign could help resolve misconceptions motorists have about the need to idle their vehicles.

Councillor Gail Parks said she felt disappointed that the bylaw would not be enacted sooner.

“I understand that it will come back in 2011, but I think we’ve proven with our own staff the value of taking this as a very serious event in our community,” said Parks.

“I somehow think we’ve missed the boat by not putting (in) a bylaw that would tell the community just what I have said to you.”

Parks cited other cities, including Kingston, Ont. and Victoria, B.C. that have successfully enacted anti-idling bylaws as a means of reducing air pollution from motor vehicles.

Councillor Larry Pimm said he supports the plan to give people time to learn the benefits of shutting their vehicles off.

The cost of enforcing a bylaw would be a limiting factor and there is also a question of human nature, said Pimm.

“Do you want to treat your public as people who will do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do . . . or do you want them simply doing what they’re told to do by law. In my opinion, we’re far ahead if we engage the public in doing what is the right thing because it is the right thing.”

Pimm pointed to the high participation rate in the city’s voluntary blue box recycling program as an example of people doing their part without having a bylaw in place.

“There is an engagement there as high as any program the city runs. I hope the engagement (in anti-idling) will be a similar thing over time,” he said.

No specific time-frame has been set for a new bylaw to come back for council to consider.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

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