Ottawa Bylaw issues 10 tickets for vehicle idling over three years

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Ottawa Bylaw officers issued three tickets for idling infractions over the last three years, as officers focused on warnings and education rather than enforcement.

Coun. Shawn Menard asked city staff for information about Ottawa's Idling Control Bylaw in light of the city declaring a climate emergency.

"This inquiry concerns the effectiveness and enforceability of Ottawa's anti-idling by-law and seeks options that may improve outcomes," Menard's inquiry to staff in May 2021 said.

Under Ottawa's Idling Control Bylaw, drivers are prohibited from idling their vehicles for more than three minutes when the temperature is between 5 C and 27 C.  The bylaw was enacted Sept. 1, 2007.

According to a report for the standing committee on environmental protection, water and waste management, Bylaw Services received 668 idling service requests in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Officers issued 10 bylaw infraction notices and 33 verbal warnings over the three-year period.

"Complaints are mostly settled through warnings and education rather than with the issuance of fines," staff said in the report.

The report says complaints originating from the core of the city often include idling complaints about tour buses or drivers picking up people in front of office buildings at the end of the work day.

"Complaints from suburban areas often relate to parents dropping off or picking up their children at schools, and from people on neighbouring properties," staff say.

The report says staff in Emergency and Protective Services are recommending a review of the Idling Control Bylaw as part of the next Term of Council Bylaw Review Workplan.

Staff would consult both the Climate Change and Resiliency unit in the Planning, Real Estate and Economic Development Department and Ottawa Public Health.

As part of the 2015 Bylaw Review Strategy, councillors suggested the bylaw was "unenforceable" and recommended the length of time vehicles can idle be reviewed based on temperature.  Staff say the review was not undertaken prior to the realignment of the implicated departments."

Some councillors and residents called on Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services to enforce the idling bylaw during the "Freedom Convoy" occupation of downtown Ottawa.