If you’re parked in Coquitlam, turn off your vehicle.
Otherwise, you may be hit with a $150 fine.
That’s the new bylaw that city council gave fourth and final reading to on Monday (Feb. 7) after two years of waiting for the Ministry of Environment’s blessing.
Under the new rule, drivers can’t idle for more than three minutes, when it could be avoided.
That means if you’re sitting in your car and waiting to pick up someone, the ignition has to be turned off under the city’s new Street and Traffic Bylaw.
Coun. Teri Towner said she brought forward the motion in 2019 after several residents contacted her about motorists leaving their engines running unnecessarily. They were concerned about exhaust fumes polluting the environment and being close to schools.
Towner said she got plenty of feedback from supporters — and opponents — when she introduced the motion.
At Monday’s meeting, she clarified: “I want to warm up my car in the morning on cold winter days for a couple of minutes or when I’m tinkering around on my old car to idle it now and then to see if I’m making the repairs properly.
“This bylaw is not about that. It’s not about driving. It’s not about transportation. It’s not about warming up your car for a couple of minutes during our colder months,” she said. “I just want to reiterate this bylaw has gone forward to give the city the tools that we need to prohibit excessive, unnecessary idling.”
Towner said the new bylaw also helps the city as it rolls out its inaugural Environmental Sustainability Plan this year; that document sets out strict greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets.
Exceptions to the new bylaw include
- active passenger loading/unloading
- following traffic directions
Over the next few weeks, the city plans to launch an education drive to build public awareness about GHG reduction, especially around schools, recreation centres and SkyTrain stations.
Last fall, B.C.’s minister for Environment and Climate Change Strategy, George Heyman, OK’d the city’s anti-idling bylaw; his approval was required as the environment portfolio lands at both provincial and municipal levels, Mayor Richard Stewart told council.
Initially, the provincial ministry wanted the city to designate anti-idling as a nuisance; however, Stewart said the city lobbied to have it proclaimed an environmental hazard in Coquitlam — under a ministerial order.
In 2010, council capped city vehicles to two minutes of idling. The following year, anti-idling signs were also put up at rail crossings at Westwood Street, Pitt River Road and Kingsway Avenue.