AirCare defenders hope for reprieve

Vehicle testing program set to be scrapped next year

Critics of the plan to scrap AirCare testing warn it will mean an increase in heavily polluting vehicles on the roads.

Metro Vancouver directors will again urge the provincial government to continue the AirCare program, which is slated to be dismantled at the end of next year.

They voted at Thursday’s environment and parks committee meeting to draw up a new staff report that may offer up fresh ammunition for preserving the tailpipe emission testing stations that force heavily polluting vehicles to get fixed.

“Whenever you go to a municipality or anyplace that doesn’t have AirCare you see vehicles with billowing smoke coming out, ” Pitt Meadows Mayor Deb Walters said.

“You really see how protected we are in the Lower Mainland with AirCare.”

Metro voted three years ago to support extending AirCare until at least 2020, but that was rejected last year by the provincial government, which announced the program would be wound down at the end of 2014.

Vancouver Coun. Heather Deal, who chairs the committee, said she strongly supports maintaining AirCare because modern cars, despite much improved pollution controls, can still have emission failures.

As of 2010, the failure rate at AirCare was 22.3 per cent for pre-1995 vehicles and 7.4 per cent for 1995-2003 vehicles (newer models are exempt from testing.)

Owners of older vehicles must pay $46 every two years for testing but lower fees are expected in the final year of the program.

The provincial government says air pollution from cars has declined as technology improves and the mandatory tests no longer provide the benefit they once did.

Also campaigning to keep AIrCare – and its 110 union jobs  – are officials with the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union.

Union spokesperson Stephanie Smith predicts a rise in pollution if the program is scrapped.

“We know light vehicles are the largest contributor to smog-producing pollutants as well as ground-level ozone,” she said.

A BCGEU-led report warns there could be significant backsliding as old smoke-belching vehicles are put back on the road and motorists neglect their cars’ emission controls or even disable them to improve performance.

AirCare is run by TransLink but the $17.5-million annual cost of running testing centres is entirely borne by motorists through fees, so killing the program would not save TransLink or the government any money.

Metro is also continuing to push for an AirCare-like program to target heavy trucks.

Just Posted

New ‘meowyoral’ race featuring felines announced by Chilliwack animal shelter

Organizers hope the cat election will generate attention for both the shelter and municipal election

VIDEO: Education Minister talks SOGI 123 and the Chilliwack school board election

He said people are making ‘noise about side issues but student safety is important’

Chilliwack athletes win provincial titles at Cultus Lake Triathlon

Close to 700 athletes competed in several distances, with action starting at Cultus Lake Park.

Chilliwack Chiefs add defenceman Alexander Marrocco

Marrocco is the younger brother of PJ Marrocco, a forward from last spring’s RBC Cup champions.

Rally in the Valley in Chilliwack to talk stewardship

It’s an event to connect interested locals with groups making a difference with species at risk

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Lower Mainland city calls for slower trains near popular beach

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said ‘it’s the least we can do’

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

A B.C. society helps to reforest Crown land after wildfires

Forest Enhancement Society of BC focuses on wildfire mitigation and the reforestation

Most Read