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LICA spreading the word about needless idling

During the MD's committee meeting on Wednesday, Lisa Gander, education and outreach coordinator for LICA, and Arianne Crook, executive director for LICA, explained their organization's latest venture. Photo by Meagan MacEachern.

BONNVILLE - The Lakeland Industry and Community Association (LICA) wants to clear the air about their latest campaign: Stop Needless Idling.

After receiving some resistance from the general public, Lisa Gander, education and outreach coordinator for LICA, and Arianne Crook, executive director for the organization, made a presentation to the MD of Bonnyville council on Feb. 5 to clarify just what their newest venture is all about.

“To motivate them to take action to improve air quality, we’ve launched a campaign with the Alberta Air Sheds Council called Stop Needless Idling,” Gander detailed. “We’re asking people to idle for 60-seconds or less is best.”

One misconception they wanted to clear up was the difference between what idling is necessary and what isn’t.

“It’s important to distinguish what’s considered needless idling and what’s necessary, because we’ve had some pushback about idling for 60-seconds or less, and we do acknowledge that there is necessary idling,” outlined Gander.

Keeping safety in mind, Gander noted there are numerous reasons why someone may feel the need to idle their vehicle for longer than the recommended one-minute.

For example, if their windshield isn’t clear, there are children in the vehicle, or if you’re parked in a remote location in -30 C and are concerned your vehicle won’t restart after you’ve turned it off.

“Needless idling on the other hand would be waiting outside of the school at 0 C to pick-up your kids and you just want it to be warm, or in the grocery store parking lot, leaving your car idling while you run-in and grab some groceries,” she described, adding using your remote start and “letting it get to 20 C before getting in to drive it,” is another example.

“Keeping the air healthy is one of the motivations behind this campaign, because excessive idling can increase emissions, chemicals, and particulate matter that negatively affect air quality. That particulate matter can aggravate health problems, especially among older adults, people with heart and lung disease, and children,” explained Gander.

This is particularly true when it comes to younger generations.

According to Gander, air monitoring in school zones has shown elevated levels of toxins during pick-up and drop-off times.

“Children are especially at risk because their lungs are still developing and they inhale more air per pound of body weight,” she added.

This is one of the reasons why they’ve partnered with the Grade 5 class at École des Beaux-Lacs.

“The students are out measuring air quality during drop-off and pick-up times using particulate matter air beams that measure the current concentrations,” detailed Gander. “They’re then going to approach the parents and ask if they’re interested in stopping needless idling. They will present them the same information we’re presenting to you, and parents interested are going to get little cling-on stickers they can put on their windows if they pledge to stop needless idling.”

Once the students have collected their data and spread the word about the negative affects of idling, they will take a second measurement and compare the results.

But, LICA wants to take it one-step further by offering presentations to municipalities and local industry leaders.

“If all drivers reduced idling by three-minutes per day across Canada, we would save $630-million per year as a country. That’s equivalent to taking 320,000 cars off of the road for an entire year,” expressed Gander. “Idling for 10-seconds wastes more fuel than starting your vehicle again, and idling your vehicle in the cold not only wastes fuel, but it strips oil from critical engine components of your car.”

Instead of running your vehicle, LICA is suggesting drivers consider installing a block heater and limiting remote-vehicle starter use.

Coun. Dana Swigart was on-board with the campaign’s message.

“I think some communities have bylaws, and that would be cool too. It’s probably hard to have a bylaw where you get a ticket for idling,” he noted, adding it would be difficult to enforce in the MD, but it could be done in areas such as Cold Lake and Bonnyville.

Crook said she has heard of some that apply mostly in school zones and youth centres.

“We will bring (the topic) back and look at what maybe we can do in our own operations, but certainly we can use the MD website and social media to help spread the message,” exclaimed Reeve Greg Sawchuk.

Meagan MacEachern, Bonnyville Nouvelle