An Ottawa councillor is calling for a review of the city's anti-idling bylaw, including the temperature thresholds, fines and exemptions for vehicles.

The city of Ottawa's anti-idling bylaw was enacted on Sept. 1, 2017, prohibiting drivers from idling their vehicles for more than three minutes when the temperature is between 5 C and 27 C.

Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services issued 10 tickets for anti-idling infractions and 33 verbal warnings in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

In a motion for Wednesday's council meeting, Coun. Shawn Menard asks councillors to direct Public Policy Development Services in Emergency and Protective Services to include a comprehensive review of the anti-idling bylaw as part of the 2023-2026 Bylaw Review Work Plan.

Menard says the idling bylaw is "rarely enforced" and "written with many exemptions,” adding the bylaw was written to "provide education and warnings and enforce for repeat offenders.”

The motion notes council declared a climate emergency in April 2019, and Environment Canada estimates air pollution from vehicle emissions contribute to 15,000 premature deaths each year in Canada through emission exhaust.

Menard's motion recommends the review of Ottawa's idling bylaw look at temperature thresholds, fine and time thresholds in relation to other major Canadian cities, exemptions under the bylaw, enforcement and improved definitions of terms such as "idle" and "private transit vehicles."

The transportation committee is also recommending council ask the Ottawa Board of Health to consider developing a public education and signage campaign to reduce unnecessary idling.

EXEMPTIONS FOR IDLING

In May, staff outlined the exemptions for idling under Ottawa's anti-idling bylaw.

  • Vehicles assisting in an emergency activity
  • Mobile workshops (garbage/recycling collection vehicles)
  • When idling is required for repair
  • Armoured vehicles
  • Vehicles required to remain motionless because of emergency, traffic, weather condition or mechanical difficulty
  • Vehicles involved in a parade
  • Private transit vehicles while passengers are embarking or disembarking
  • Vehicles transporting a person with a medical condition requiring that temperature or humidity be maintained within a certain range
  • Vehicles providing City services whcih vehicles are subject to the city's Vehicle and Equipment Idling Policy
  • Vehicles engaged in normal farming practices
  • Any vehicle that eliminates the emission of greenhouse gases and criteria air contaminants during the idling phase of operation