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September 2007 - Nr. 9


The Editor
Letter to the Editor
In Canada, eh?
Tag der Heimat 2007
Hier O.K. Berlin!
KW & Beyond
German Pioneers Day
Dan's Satire
Lessons by Stray Dogs
German Diplomat at York University
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
German Women's Soccer
Art History: September
Forming of YOUdance
October Listings
Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra
The Elephant Man
COC Surpasses $10 Million
COC: Schafer@75
German Films at TIFF
Screen Industry Growth
Attract Skilled Newcomers
Impact of Idling at Schools
Community Power Fund
Thinner Ice in Arctic
Concern About Uranium
Chair of National Redress Council
War Made Easy
Financial Basics

Reducing the impact of vehicle idling in front of schools

Diane Sax - Environmental Law Specialist  It's a familiar scene in front of schools across Ontario:  exhaust fumes billowing from a lineup of idling cars.  Parents are waiting to pick-up their kids after school, the worst place and time for vehicle idling. 

Children are the most vulnerable to air pollution because their bodies are smaller and they breathe faster, inhaling more air per kilogram of body weight than adults.  Air pollutants also tend to be worse in the afternoon, when it's time to pick up the kids from school.

Across Ontario, communities are encouraging drivers to turn off their engines.  Currently, 30 municipalities (* see below) have instituted idling control by-laws which allow officers to crack down on those who refuse to turn off their engines.  Natural Resources Canada has even published a model Anti-Idling Bylaw to make it easy for municipalities to adopt one.

Many of the by-laws that municipalities have implemented, however, are limited in their usefulness.  They contain too many exceptions (Toronto, for example, permits unlimited idling when the outside temperature is above 27°C or below 5°C).  As well, the time limit for idling is much too long, and most municipalities do not allocate enough resources to adequately enforce them.  The amount of resources needed increases the longer an enforcement officer must wait and observe an idling vehicle (3 minutes in Toronto).

Municipalities could do much more to protect the health of children by establishing "idle-free zones" in front of their schools.  Such zones could have one minute idling limits, except in severe weather (hotter than 30ºC or below 0º).  However, parents in these circumstances could avoid idling by parking the car and waiting in the school lobby.

If idling is a problem in front of your child's school, Natural Resources Canada has some tips through its "No Idling at School" project that can help.  Some of these tips include letting other parents know about the benefits to their health, environment and wallet associated with reducing vehicle idling.  This information is freely available to the public (see for links). 

Getting this information out to parents may be easier than you think.  The school newsletter is an excellent way.  You can also speak to your school about involving students in an anti-idling campaign and linking it to their curriculum.

And of course, it's always a good idea to lead by example.  Be sure to turn off your engine when dropping off or picking up your children.  Idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel and causes more pollution than restarting your engine.

Dianne Saxe, one of Canada's leading environmental lawyers, is a Certified Specialist in Environmental Law and member of the Ontario Bar Association Environmental Section Executive.  She also holds one of Canada's only Doctorates of Jurisprudence (PhD) in environmental law.

* Ajax, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Guelph, Hamilton, Huntsville, Kingston, London, Markham, Newmarket, Niagara Falls, Oakville, Orangeville, Oshawa, Ottawa, Pickering, Port Hope, Richmond Hill, Sault Ste Marie, St. Catharines, Stratford, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vaughan, Waterloo, Whitchurch-Stouffville, Windsor, and Woodstock

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