You’re safe getting your double-double as Sarnia eyes idling bylaw

idling It may soon cost you to sit in an idling car in Sarnia.

The city is proposing an Idling by-law and plans to show it to the public at an April 23 meeting at city hall.

The bylaw would make it illegal for drivers to leave a car running for more than one minute an hour. The fine, if they are caught by Sarnia bylaw enforcement officers or police, would be $100.

But Alison Mahon of the Community Roundtable Environment Committee which is the driving force behind it says there are many exceptions to the rule.

“It does not apply to emergency vehicles, work vehicles doing basic work functions where idling is required,” she says. Mahon says people could still leave their cars running if it was over 30 C for air conditioning or in winter weather to defrost windows.

And you won’t have to worry about being ticketed while getting your double-double. “Drive throughs will be exempted,” says Mahon. “At this point in time we’re trying to get people on board with it…We’re hoping by encouraging citizens not to idle, maybe the will chose not to wait in that long line at the drive through and go inside. We want to get people thinking about it.

“It is better for the environment and better for the air,” she says.

Mahon says the Community Roundtable has been working on educating people about the problems associated with idling for four years and has had some success; the city and Lambton County both have anti-idling rules for city owned vehicles and private organizations have also come on board. She says the bylaw is the next logical step.

But the fine associated with the bylaw caught some people by surprise.  “This bylaw seems to be punitive in terms of people can be ticketed for idling offenses,” said Councilor Terry Burrell recently. “I don’t recall that being the direction of council…it seems more that we’re going to the Highway Traffic Act to get a penalty involved.”

But Clerk Brian Knott says he’s not sure there could be a bylaw without a penalty.

The proposed bylaw will return to city council for discussion after the April 23 public meeting. It could become law in January.

– Heather Wright