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Councillor proposes three-minute rule

Adam Johnson
Northern News Services
Published Friday, August 31, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - The sight of lonely cars idling in driveways across Yellowknife may be a thing of the past if one city councillor has her way.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Marino Casebeer, energy program co-ordinator with Arctic Energy Alliance, shows off one of the "no idle zone" signs he'd like to see peppered around Yellowknife if a new anti-idling bylaw comes through. - Adam Johnson/NNSL photo

At Monday's city council meeting, Coun. Shelagh Montgomery gave notice that she hopes to toughen up the city's idling bylaw to only allow cars to run for a few minutes when they're not being driven.

"It is a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and anything we can do to reduce those emissions is a good thing," she said.

"Three minutes is an absolute maximum," she said of her plans for the potential bylaw, which she hopes to base on similar legislation passed in cities and towns around Canada.

"(Idling) is wasteful of fuel, and it's not very good for vehicles to be left idling for more than a few minutes."

Marino Casebeer, program co-ordinator for Arctic Energy Alliance, said while many people warm up their vehicles because it's "good for the engine," the practice isn't based on any known facts.

"There's no science to support any of those things," he said. "Mostly it is just comfort, we just want to be warm."

While an idling bylaw is on the books already, Montgomery said it is unmanageable in its current form.

The present bylaw requires a Municipal Enforcement Division (MED) officer to observe the vehicle for the whole 20 minutes before a ticket is issued.

"It's a 20-minute limit which is, essentially, unenforceable," she said.

"It's not impossible to enforce," said MED manager Doug Gillard, adding it depends on available resources. However, he said it was "maybe not the best use of our time."

Montgomery said she hopes to bring her recommendation forward in October.

It is then up to administration to come back with recommendations about what the bylaw should look like.