Surveillance catches flagrant idling in city

In just about any community, drive-through restaurants are the biggest source of vehicle idling.

In just about any community, drive-through restaurants are the biggest source of vehicle idling.

Red Deer is no different.

Last July, 26 out of 30 vehicles in the McDonald’s Restaurant (3020 22nd St.) drive-through lineup kept their vehicles running for a total of 182 minutes, over the course of one hour.

But the worst offenders aren’t necessarily just at drive-throughs

A driver of an SUV in the Sobeys South parking lot kept his motor running for 26 minutes that same summer.

Another driver of an SUV idled his vehicle for 27 minutes at St. Teresa of Avila School while presumably waiting for his children.

“For me it was a little bit surprising to see the length of time that people idle,” said Nancy Hackett, the city’s Environmental Initiatives supervisor.

“Some vehicles were idling for 19 or 26 minutes. That is really a long time to leave your vehicle running while you are in a grocery store or in a public building.”

Hackett referred to some of the findings of the city’s first informal idling monitoring campaign conducted last summer.

The city is now in the fifth year of its idle-free awareness campaign designed to encourage residents to turn off the key.

There are nine businesses or institutions and 28 schools in the coalition.

Signs are up at the sites encouraging motorists to turn the key off.

Six locations around the city were under surveillance by a summer student paid through a Volunteer Alberta program.

The student was tasked with recording several observations, including the number of vehicles idling, the time spent idling and time of day.

Hackett said this is part of the community-based approach in which they want to understand what is happening in the community.

A sample of locations were monitored — the Collicutt Centre, downtown Red Deer, McDonald’s, Sobeys (2110 50th Ave.), Normandeau School and St. Teresa of Avila School, at different times of the day.

The locations were chosen because of the high probability of idling at the sites.

The student would stake out the location, chat with motorists about the idle-free campaign and hand out information.

“I think that sometimes we think we are going to be in a grocery store only a minute or two but it is often longer,” said Hackett. “And these were in the summer in June and July. It was not just a winter thing. I think that was the other surprise.”

Hackett said the drive-through numbers were not a surprise because that is the way they are designed. She said they included the drive-through because there has been a lot of talk in the community about drive-through idling.

Two schools were chosen because one is in the city’s idle-free program and the other is not. This allowed the city to examine how successful the program has been. The two schools were monitored at different times of the day. The observations at St. Teresa, part of the idle-free program, took place in June in the afternoon. As in the other five sites, the locations were monitored twice. Seven vehicles out of 35 were idling for a total of 33 minutes the second time compared to 10 out of 46 vehicles idling for a total of 82 minutes during the first observation.

At Normandeau School, which is not part of the program, 10 out of 53 vehicles idled for 73 minutes during the first observation compared to the six out of 40 vehicles idling for 20 minutes during the second time.

A recreation centre was chosen because people of all ages used the facility. According to the report, there was a high volume of idling vehicles when there were organized sports events.

The report concluded that people are willing to accept the information. However, many did not know the harmful effects of idling and how they benefit from reducing idling.

In the 2013 Customer Service Satisfaction Survey, residents were asked which environmental programs they are aware of or have participated in. More than 75 per cent reported being aware of the idle-free education campaign and more than 56 per cent who were aware reported participating by not idling their vehicles.

This was the first year the question was asked on the survey so there was no comparison to previous years. The survey also revealed many residents would support more action around idle-free to protect local air quality.

The city is in its fifth year of the educational campaign.

This summer’s monitoring campaign is underway. The report will be available by September. The same sites will be monitored and a few others have been added to the program. Hackett would not disclose the new locations.

“The education program has been successful in raising awareness, having more schools involved, having more signs in the community,” said Hackett. “What the student work shows us is that people are still idling.”

Hackett said residents should keep in mind that they can save money by turning their vehicle off and not running them for the extra time. Hackett said motorists should idle their vehicles for one minute or less.

On Monday night, council extended the idle-free education campaign until 2016 when the Environmental Master Plan is up for review. During this time, city staff will research tools and strategies to curb idling in the city.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

RCMP looking for these two suspects
Police looking for suspects who stole truck in central Alberta

A Ford F350 was stolen out of Blackfalds on June 9. Two… Continue reading

An excavator is tearing up old parking lots at the Michener Centre north site. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Demolition gets underway at Michener Centre’s north site

Some people are nostaligic, but not everyone is sad to see it go

The Red Deer Indian Industrial school stood off Burnt Lake Trail and across the Red Deer River from Fort Normandeau. The residential school is known to have lost at least 70 students through illness, poor sanitation and nutrition. (Advocate file photo)
Some Indigenous leaders say SNC-Lavalin can’t make up to First Nations people with offer of help

Quebec company is connected to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould allegations

RCMP are looking for this 30-year-old missing woman.
Red Deer RCMP looking for missing woman

The Red Deer RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance to locate… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley says the UCP is not making good use of federal wage funding help.
File photo from THE CANADIAN PRESS
‘So unfair’: Métis take Alberta to court over refusal to discuss consultation policy

EDMONTON — The Métis Nation of Alberta is taking the provincial government… Continue reading

The Calgary Stampede park is shown in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 23, 2020. The Calgary Stampede's board of directors cancelled the world-famous exhibition and rodeo this year because of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Plans for Calgary Stampede include reduced attendance, COVID-19 safety protocols

CALGARY — Officials with the Calgary Stampede say reduced daily attendance and… Continue reading

(Photo contributed)
Red Deer’s Ernco Braves go 4-0 in opening weekend games

Braves shot out Edmonton Padres in four straight games

Love it or hate it, tequila conjures up strong feelings in many drinkers. For some, there are bad memories. But today’s premium tequilas are changing some of those perceptions. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Rethinking tequila: Premium brands aim to change perceptions

LONDON — Love it or hate it, tequila conjures up strong feelings… Continue reading

This image provided by Glenorangie shows Glenorangie's Giraffe Tin. To enjoy the occasional beverage and also help wildlife, consider Glenorangie's Giraffe Tin. The Highland Scotch maker's stills are the tallest in Scotland, as tall as a giraffe, and the collectible tin is patterned like the animal's coat. Each purchase supports the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. (Glenorangie via AP)
Father’s Day gifts that celebrate interests old and new

After a pandemic year in which the shape of work and play… Continue reading

Pumpjacks are shown pumping crude oil near Halkirk, Alta., on June 20, 2007.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Canada’s crude oil exports have increased 15-fold in 30 years: report

HALIFAX — The value of crude oil exports from Canada has increased… Continue reading

Everlasting Wind, aka Dawn Goodwin, joins others by raising her fist in the Mississippi River near an Enbridge pipeline construction site, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn., to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. Goodwin is a co-founder of RISE Coalition. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)
Minnesota court affirms approval of Line 3 oil pipeline

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday affirmed… Continue reading

Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, speaks during a news conference held by the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, a coalition of airports, airlines, hotels, boards of trade and chambers of commerce, to urge the federal government to implement a reopening plan for travel and tourism, at the Ottawa Airport in Ottawa, on Monday, June 14, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadian business leaders demand plan to reopen borders, economy now

OTTAWA — Business leaders are calling on Ottawa to immediately lay out… Continue reading

Most Read