A car undergoes pollution testing in an AirCare station in the Lower Mainland.

A car undergoes pollution testing in an AirCare station in the Lower Mainland.

Province to scrap AirCare for regular vehicles

Emission testing program to be phased out by the end of 2014.



Citing a sharp drop in air pollution from cars that have become ever cleaner, B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake said the provincial government will scrap AirCare emission tests for light vehicles by the end of 2014.

The decision will end a long-standing irritant for many Lower Mainland motorists who saw the program as an unjustified cash grab that cost them $46 every two years.

And Lake also promised fees will be reduced in the last year of the two-and-a-half year phase-out period.

“Times change, technology changes and it’s time for progress,” Lake said, adding the move will save families money.

He pledged a review of the need for emissions testing in future, suggesting the program may be retooled to test heavy trucks or other vehicles, but made no guarantee.

Less than half the regular cars and light trucks on the road currently go through  AirCare under the current rules, because of an eight-year exemption period for new vehicles.

Most older cars that are tested pass AirCare without difficulty but those that fail must get a tune-up and re-test to get insurance.

Thirteen per cent of those tested in 2007 failed.

A multi-agency review in 2010 found the air quality benefits and health impacts justified keeping AirCare until at least 2020.

Lake agreed there would be some benefits to continuing, but said they are diminishing.

“Technology appears to be solving its own problem,” he said, adding a shift in focus to diesel-burning trucks, off-road vehicles and even ships may yield bigger air quality and health benefits.

Metro Vancouver’s board voted in 2010 to retain AirCare and the decision was narrowly endorsed by the Fraser Valley regional district board. Both regional boards supported a continuation, coupled with an expansion to test large diesel trucks.

The AirCare program is run by TransLink at a cost of $17.5 million per year, but that money was fully funded from the fees charged.

Not everyone is applauding the decision.

“There’s so many older vehicles out there that we need to make sure are in good operating condition,” said North Vancouver City Mayor Darrell Mussatto. “If it affects the quality of our airshed, I have some concerns about it.”

David Cumming, an AirCare inspector and one of 114 unionized employees whose jobs may be gone, called it a “backward step” that may lead to more pollution in the region’s constrained airshed.

He said the decision means there will be no check to keep older vehicles clean or to prevent some drivers from tampering with pollution controls.

But Lake said increasingly computerized vehicles means it’s less likely drivers will dismantle emission control systems to try to save gas.

“I don’t know very many people who do that,” he said. “When I look under my hood I don’t know what’s what any more. It’s all computerized, the technology is so far advanced I think that will happen less and less.”

Lake credited Metro Vancouver’s leadership, saying the regional district’s newly imposed fees on older off-road diesel equipment will spur owners to upgrade and reduce emissions.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Six-month-old Peanut enjoys a neck-brushing from Kindred Community Farm Sanctuary founder Keryn Denroche. (Tracy Holmes photo)
PHOTOS: $1,000,000 quest underway for South Surrey farm-animal refuge

Served with eviction notice, Kindred Community Farm Sanctuary ramps up search for new home

Surrey Police Service’s crest was unveiled Tuesday. (SPS image)
Surrey Police Service hires new communications manager from Surrey RCMP

Lisa Eason was municipal manager of Surrey RCMP’s communications and media unit for almost eight years

Clover Lanes is seen on May 7, a few days after the building was sold and the 72-year-old business was closed for good. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
End of an era: Clover Lanes closes for good

Building had been up for sale for more than a year

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Delta Patriots Cricket Club takes Surrey, other clubs to court over Cricket BC voting

‘At issue is the propriety or legality of the voting procedures within Cricket BC,’ Justice John Harvey noted

Seaquam Secondary School (Grace Kennedy photo)
Pellet gun leads to ‘hold and secure’ at North Delta high school

Seaquam Secondary was under ‘hold and secure’ for about 25 minutes on Monday, May 10

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in B.C.

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

Most Read