Council rejection of anti-idling bylaw disappoints environmental commission

Council’s decision to put off an anti-idling policy until next year is “disappointing” to the group that proposed the bylaw.

Council’s decision to put off an anti-idling policy until next year is “disappointing” to the group that proposed the bylaw.

The Environmental Advisory Commission drew up a proposal for the policy and presented it to council in November.

At the time, Coun. Andy Adams supported a recommendation to consider the policy and also asked city staff to come back with a report providing an implementation strategy.

But at last week’s council meeting, Adams made a motion to defer the anti-idling bylaw for one year before the agenda item could be explained by Ron Neufeld, the city’s manager of operations.

“We’re very disappointed,” said Peter Woods, chair of the Environmental Advisory Commission. “We thought we put together a really good policy and media relations package for council and it’s disappointing it didn’t get further.

“We thought the anti-idling policy matched well with council’s strategic priorities for 2010, to create ‘green’ bylaws.”

Adams said after looking at last week’s staff report describing the bylaw implementation strategy he realized council has more pressing matters to tend to.

“After looking at what was involved – and considering what we found out in between asking for the report and receiving the implementation strategy about our financial situation – it just wasn’t the right time,” said Adams. “Our financial situation is our focus and our main priority. It’s not that I’m against it (anti-idling), it’s just we have so much on our plates that it’s not the time to look at ‘nice-to-dos’ right now.”

Council is facing the reality of Catalyst Paper’s Elk Falls Mill closure and a loss of $1.37 million in tax revenue.

Adams said he hopes in one year’s time the city will be in a better situation to debate the merits of anti-idling.

“I have some concerns (about the policy) but I would like to talk about it next year. I like the education component of the policy but I’m concerned about the enforcement of it,” said Adams.

Woods said the Environmental Advisory Commission came to a consensus last year ton drafting the anti-idling policy, feeling it would be in the best interest of Campbell River residents.

As a commissioner, Woods represents the general public at large and said he has heard from several members of the community that would like to see an anti-idling bylaw in the city.

Vancouver Island Health Authority’s medical health officer also sent a letter to Woods supporting an anti-idling bylaw.

“Vehicle exhaust emissions are a major source of pollutants that contribute to human health problems and environmental problems such as climate change,” reads the letter. “An anti-idling bylaw can make a significant impact on air quality in the community.”

An anti-idling bylaw in Campbell River would likely ban idling for more than three minutes consecutively and idling in drive-thrus and heavy traffic would be exempt.