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Council to consider one-minute idling restriction

Anti-idling recommendation would reduce current limit from five minutes to one, though it would not be enforced in temperatures hotter than 27C and colder than 0C.
Nicki Wilberforce
Dr. Nicki Wilberforce earlier his year had requested city council and administration to revise the current anti-idling bylaw. (Matt Vis,

THUNDER BAY – A local physician who advocated for the city to strengthen its anti-idling bylaw sees the proposed revisions as a starting point.

Thunder Bay city council on Monday night is expected to decide on whether to impose tougher limits on drivers who leave vehicles running while parked, with administration recommending slashing the allowed time to one minute from the current five.

The proposed bylaw would include temperature exemptions, meaning it would not apply when its hotter than 27C or colder than 0C.

“I’m happy (administration is) going to suggest we go ahead with the bylaw,” said Dr. Nicki Wilberforce, who went before council in February calling for heightened restrictions.

“I would like it to be a little broader temperature range but it is what I proposed because I thought it would be harder to pass with more limitations. Maybe some time in the future we might look at amending it again.”

The city’s existing anti-idling bylaw was implemented more than a decade ago has fallen behind trends in other municipalities, Wilberforce insisted. Toronto and Burlington both have one-minute restrictions while Guelph, Kingston, Waterloo, Oakville and Mississauga all have three-minute limits.

Wilberforce, a prominent local runner who is a repeat past champion of the Ten Mile Road Race, conceded that it will likely be difficult to enforce but hopes it would be enough of a deterrent to discourage idling at public places where there are people are active and children are playing.

“I think the main point of doing it is for education for the public,” Wilberforce said. “I’ve been running around the city and I’ve been looking at a few places where it’s common for idling. It would be nice to have some signs up that suggested there was a bylaw at places like Hillcrest and Marina Park.”

While she acknowledged that much of the online feedback to her February presentation was negative, Wilberforce said many patients have provided a positive response to her idea.

Following her recommendation, council unanimously directed administration to prepare a report outlining different options. Administration identified three potential routes, including their preferred option of one minute, keeping the bylaw as its currently written or going with a three-minute limit.

Wilberforce said the argument that keeping a vehicle running saves gas isn’t true anymore.

“If you’re going to be idling for more than 10 seconds you should be turning your vehicle off,” Wilberforce said.

Matt Vis

About the Author: Matt Vis

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Matt is honoured to tell the stories of his hometown.
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