Council puts the brakes on anti-idling bylaw

Red Deer will not introduce an anti-idling bylaw. Council dismissed administration’s recommendation to explore the option to tackle the city’s poor air quality on Monday. Mayor Tara Veer said the air quality challenges are bigger than Red Deer alone. She said the city has to work with other municipalities in the region.

Red Deer will not introduce an anti-idling bylaw.

Council dismissed administration’s recommendation to explore the option to tackle the city’s poor air quality on Monday.

Mayor Tara Veer said the air quality challenges are bigger than Red Deer alone. She said the city has to work with other municipalities in the region.

But it was enforcing a potential bylaw that forced council to put on the brakes.

Veer said that city is currently reviewing all its bylaws, RCMP non-emergency calls and enforcement efforts.

“Council may move down this road in the future but I think there was reluctance tonight because we have that enforcement review underway,” she said.

Coun. Lawrence Lee said the city would be forced to spend countless dollars on hiring and training staff and equipment in order to pursue the potential initiative. He suggested that Mayor Tara Veer proclaim Red Deer an idle-free city.

“It would probably have more of an effect than any bylaw,” said Lee.

Most councillors agreed that strengthening the education component of the city’s anti-idling campaign will be key to getting motorists to turn off their engines. The decision came after council heard the annual update on the idle-free public education campaign.

Nancy Hackett, the city’s environmental services supervisor, said progress has been made since the program began in 2010. Hackett said the city is generally meeting its targets in the Environmental Master Plan except for the particulate matter which the city exceeds Canada-wide standards.

“We have been doing this for six years,” said Hackett. “We know that some people will not make that behavioural shift with education alone.”

The city researched 69 Canadian examples where there are various bylaws. There are seven Alberta municipalities with anti-idling including Banff, Edmonton and Calgary.

A 2014 telephone survey in Red Deer asked residents if they would support in general a bylaw to restrict vehicle idling to improve air quality. Council heard that 68.9 per cent were in support while 80 per cent also supported restricting idling around schools and hospitals.

Hackett said the city wants to develop a policy that works for Red Deer for the climate. She told council that cities further north of Red Deer including the Yukon and Edmonton have adopted a bylaw.

The city is waiting for the province’s action plan that includes scientific data to deal with the poor air quality in the Red Deer region. The report is expected sometime this year.

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