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Citys anti-idling bylaw not enforced, critics say - Globe and Mail

October 29 2001
Wallace Immen
Globe and Mail

On the third anniversary of a bylaw that was supposed to help control smog, exhaust continues to pour out of idling engines throughout Toronto.

The city's anti-idling rule sounds tough on paper. Any driver in Toronto who keeps the engine running while a vehicle is stopped for more than three minutes is liable for a fine of $130.

Antipollution campaigners and city-bylaw enforcers say they still see frowns of disbelief when they ask drivers why smoke is curling from their exhausts as they stop to pick up students at schools or drop off videos at rental stores.

"It's a matter of creating a social consciousness," said Gord Perks, a spokesman for the Toronto Environmental Alliance. "So far we aren't doing all that well."

The alliance said Toronto's enforcement of the seemingly strict rules to help clear the air is still almost non-existent and it shows.

This fall, the Toronto Environmental Alliance gave the city only a grade of D in its smog-control efforts. That was a drop from a C-minus in 2000.

However, the city says its efforts are beginning to pay off.

"I can't say we have 100-per-cent compliance, but we have seen a big difference," said Angie Antoniou, head of Right of Way management for the city's transportation department.

Ms. Antoniou said city employees as well as owners of taxis, buses and trucks are complying. So far, the city's approach has been to get out the message to smog scofflaws with reminders rather than tickets.

In the first year of the idling bylaw, inspectors gave offenders a warning and an information brochure. Last year, 74 charges were laid and 400 warnings issued, Ms. Antoniou said. So far this year, there have been 36 fines and 358 warnings.

The inspectors have run several anti-idling blitzes, mostly in the summer months.

Air pollution can be every bit as big a problem in the winter, Mr. Perks said, adding that remote starters to warm up cars are wasteful but increasingly common.

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