TBM working on bylaw to restrict idling vehicles

·3 min read

The Town of The Blue Mountains (TBM) is working on updating their vehicle idling by-law to apply to all vehicles in the town.

Bylaw 2004-104 currently restricts idling for municipal vehicles, but an incident in September 2021 spurred Mayor Alar Soever to call for an updated idling bylaw.

“I was contacted by a resident who had a situation where a contractor working on the house next door left a diesel truck idling all day beside their house,” he said to council Sep. 20. “When she asked them to turn it off because the noxious fumes were coming in through her open windows and it was a hot day […] the contractor basically told her to buzz off.”

After contacting bylaw services, the resident found that the town was unable to enforce the bylaw for this case, and Soever brought the issue to council.

“We have declared a climate emergency, and it just seems strange that we don't have an idling bylaw, which is quite common in most municipalities, that covers all vehicles,” he said.

Council directed staff to update the bylaw in consultation with the Sustainability Advisory Committee, where a discussion of the draft took place Nov. 10.

Staff drafted a new bylaw proposing that vehicles are restricted to idling for no more than three minutes in any 60 minute period, although there are numerous exceptions.

As drafted, the bylaw would not apply to occupied vehicles when the outside temperature is greater than 27 degrees celsius, or lower than 5 degrees celsius, and there are exceptions for vehicles engaged in farming, hybrid and electric vehicles, vehicles assisting emergency activity, and vehicles participating in a council-sanctioned parade, among others.

“In reviewing it, we found that the bylaw needed a bit more than just a minor tweak,” said director of legal services Will Thomson. “It was a little bit bare-bones so what we've done is drafted a new bylaw.”

“This is really the provincial standard, I would say, for idling bylaws,” he said. “You'll see these are in place in municipalities across the province, and that by and large, this is the form they take. It sets a standard to prevent idling, to try and mitigate the idling of vehicles.”

Committee co-chair Kim Harris raised concerns about enforcing the proposed by-law.

“It's all well and good to have an anti-idling bylaw, but if there's no enforcement, it doesn't make a heck of a lot of difference and I just wondered what the plan is to enforce the bylaw,” she said.

Thomson conceded that enforcement may be difficult, as vehicles may cease idling, or leave, prior to the arrival of a bylaw officer following any complaint, but he nonetheless views the proposed bylaw as having benefits for the town.

“I think there are two reasons to have it,” he said. “One, it's to set a standard that we didn't have before.”

“I think the enforcement of this bylaw will likely happen part-and-parcel with the enforcement of other bylaws ... when our officers are out and about at our beaches and our recreation areas and looking at reviewing parking infractions … it's a tool that officers will have in their tool belt to remind people, visitors and residents of the town, that this is a place you really shouldn't be idling unless there's a good reason to do so,” he said.

The Sustainability Advisory Committee moved for the draft bylaw to be shared with other advisory committees for input, and recommended that council direct staff to begin data collection to better understand the issue.

The issue will be brought forth for further discussion at the Nov. 16 Committee of the Whole meeting, and again at the Nov. 29 council meeting to consider the subsequent recommendations.

The proposed bylaw will also be subject to a public meeting, at a date yet to be determined, prior to its ratification.

Greg McGrath-Goudie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca

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