April 20, 2021

The City of Kitchener has put a new anti-idling bylaw into effect, similar to a law that has seen only 20 tickets issued in Waterloo in over 10 years.

The new bylaw was put into effect on Feb. 22, and requires drivers to turn off their engines when idling for more than three minutes, unless they’re in traffic. The fine for idling over three minutes has been set at $75. But how often will this new bylaw really be enforced?

“Each of us has a role to play in building a healthier and more sustainable future for our City,” Coun. Margaret Johnston said in a press release. “We’re not always going to be able to catch people and frankly that, to me, isn’t really the impetus behind this because bylaw would have to observe people idling for three minutes.”

It’s clear that the City of Kitchener’s primary plan for this bylaw isn’t to enforce it, but with the city in a climate emergency, it corresponds to their plan of addressing climate change. Having the bylaw in place will make people think when idling their vehicles. 

According to the bylaw council guide, the bylaw is challenging to enforce, however it will compliment the Community Climate Action Plan that is in place.

“I don’t think it will have any effect on me and it will be hard to enforce it,” Kitchener resident Colin Norris said. With the bylaw being so rarely enforced in Waterloo already, it will be hard to change drivers’ minds’ when it comes to stopping idling.

The new bylaw has a long list of exceptions, including when the temperature inside a vehicle is over 27 degrees Celsius, or under five degrees Celsius. Here are the other exceptions:

  • Emergency vehicles while engaged in operational activities including training and patient transfer.
  • Vehicles assisting in an emergency activity, including tow trucks while engaged in hooking up to or moving another vehicle.
  • A vehicle containing equipment that must be operated in association with the vehicle.
  • Mobile workshops, while using the equipment that must be operated in association with the vehicle.
  • Vehicles where idling is required to repair the vehicle or prepare it for service.
  • Armoured vehicles, where a person remains inside the vehicle while guarding the contents of the vehicle, or while the vehicle is being loaded or unloaded.
  • Vehicles required to remain motionless due to an emergency, traffic, weather condition or mechanical difficulty over which the person driving the vehicle has no control.
  • Vehicles engaged in a parade or race or any other event authorized by Council.
  • Transit and passenger vehicles, while passengers are embarking or disembarking on route or at terminals.
  • Commercial vehicles using heating or refrigeration systems powered by the motor or engine for the preservation of perishable cargo.
  • Vehicles engaged in works undertaken for or on behalf of the Region, the City, or public utilities.
  • Vehicles engaged in normal farm practice.
  • Vehicles, including hybrid vehicles, that eliminate the emission of greenhouse gases and criteria air contaminants during the idling phase of operation.

Kitchener joins Waterloo with a three minute idling limitation while Cambridge has it set at one minute.

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