Anti-idling goes through on second attempt

One month after an anti-idling policy was deferred for a year by city council, councillors decided to endorse an education campaign aimed at discouraging idling.

The Environmental Advisory Commission put forward a report to council on Tuesday recommending city staff educate the public with an aim of promoting anti-idling.

“I’m impressed by the education component,” said Coun. Ryan Mennie. “I appreciate it coming forward as it is. It’s much more attainable and there’s a low dollar amount attached to it.”

When the anti-idling report came to council Feb. 1, it involved a comprehensive education campaign and an implementation strategy for an anti-idling bylaw. Councillors shot it down last month citing more pressing issues, particularly involving the budget, requiring staff time.

It was Coun. Andy Adams who made the motion to put off any discussion surrounding anti-idling and he was not pleased to see the report back on his desk this week.

“To say I’m disappointed to see this come back to council is an understatement,” said Adams. “To see this come back in a matter of weeks but in a lesser form – I’m disappointed. While I don’t disagree with the anti-idling initiative I think we have far more important issues to deal with at this time. We have some serious financial issues to deal with. I’m sorry but anti-idling – I don’t want to see this for a year.”

Coun. Roy Grant disagreed that the anti-idling campaign would take away from upcoming budget deliberations.

“I think it’s important and you can’t relate it to the serious financial issues coming up. It’s simply an issue of awareness,” said Grant, who was glad to see the report come back, with no bylaw attached. “We promote building green, we have an anti-idling policy for city vehicles, we’ve passed air quality bylaws and this is something I’d like to see go ahead. I was a little disappointed we made the decision (in February) so hastily to defer this for a year.”

Coun. Claire Moglove, who supported Adams’ motion to defer the February report, was more accepting of the new report because it did not involve a bylaw.

“When it came before council before it was the bylaw I disagreed with because it took up staff resources,” said Moglove.

The anti-idling education campaign also comes at minimal cost and mostly involves incorporating information regarding air quality related to idling in already existing programs and events such as the city’s woodstove exchange program, Earth Week celebrations and Bike to Work Week, according to Peter Woods, chair of the Environmental Advisory Commission. Idle-free signs for parking lots can be obtained free of charge from School District 72 which is working on its own idle-free campaign to eliminate idling in school parking lots.

But Adams said he was more concerned about the use of staff time than the dollar amount attached to the campaign.

“We’re in a very serious fiscal challenge and I’m sorry, even though the dollars are small, if we have staff time to work on this initiative then I think we have our priorities backwards,” said Adams.

In the end, the motion to endorse city staff to work on an anti-idling education campaign passed with Adams and Coun. Ziggy Stewart opposed.