Ontario’s Drive Clean program will expand on July 1, 2002, to include all of the southern Ontario smog zone, Environment Minister Elizabeth Witmer announced today.
“Protecting the quality of the air we breathe is a concern in every Ontario community, urban or rural,” said Witmer. “A significant portion of the smog-causing pollution created right here in Ontario comes from our cars, trucks and buses. So, we need to enforce tough standards on vehicles to protect our environment and human health.”
Drive Clean is one of the most extensive vehicle testing programs in North America. The decision to expand the program was made after extensive consultation with public stakeholders. The program of mandatory vehicle emissions testing will now cover all municipalities in the so-called “smog zone” which runs from Windsor to the Quebec border, including the Niagara Peninsula. The program area will now include communities such as Ottawa, Kingston, Cornwall, and Chatham-Kent.
Drive Clean was introduced in Toronto and Hamilton in April, 1999. The Phase Two area, where testing became mandatory January 1, 2001, includes urban centers and their commuting zones, from Peterborough to Windsor. Today’s announcement fills in gaps in the program in southwestern Ontario and extends Drive Clean across eastern Ontario. Drive Clean will now include about 5.7 million vehicles.
“The expansion of the Drive Clean program will allow for even more pollution reduction from automobiles,” commented Ross Reid, president and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association. “It reinforces the message of The Lung Association’s Movement for Clean Air Now program (C.A.N. DO), that there are actions all of us can take to improve the quality of the air we breathe.”
“Properly maintaining our vehicles is something that we can all do to improve the environment,” Witmer said. “In Toronto and Hamilton, we have already seen an 11.5 per cent reduction in smog-causing pollutants from vehicles. Drive Clean will also result in a reduction of up to 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, which is the equivalent of taking 23,000 cars off the road.”
The minister also announced that, effective January 1, 2002:
– Vehicle owners will have 12 months after a Drive Clean pass is issued to renew a vehicle’s registration or change ownership, up from six months.
– The approximately 500 “kit” cars registered in the province will be exempt from Drive Clean testing.
In other changes to the Drive Clean regulations, the Ministry of the Environment has:
– Empowered the director of the Drive Clean Office to suspend or decertify emissions inspectors and repair technicians who do not obey program rules.
– Clarified wording and definitions in Drive Clean regulations;
– Made it possible for light-duty diesel vehicles to be tested at heavy-duty diesel facilities;
– Included provisions to use vehicles’ on-board diagnostics in the Drive Clean program;
The Drive Clean Office is also exploring partnerships with willing municipalities to implement annual testing for taxis.
In June, the minister announced that the Repair Cost Limit (RCL) would be a permanent part of the Drive Clean program, to assist vehicle owners who cannot afford to fully repair or replace vehicles with serious emissions problems. The RCL puts a maximum on the amount that must be spent on emissions-related repairs, in order for the vehicle to qualify for a conditional pass for registration renewal. The RCL is $200 for the first two years in each phase area of Drive Clean and then rises to $450.
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