Responding to continued concerns about air quality in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley, AirCare will continue to Dec. 31, 2014, and then end for passenger cars and trucks to allow for a full examination of the program's future direction and focus, Environment Minister Terry Lake announced.
"Newer makes and models of light-duty vehicles are not the prime source of the blue smoke and pollution experienced on the road today," said Lake. "When you look at most cars now, they run a lot cleaner than the vehicles rolling off the line when AirCare started in 1992."
In full consultation with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and key stakeholders, the Ministry of Environment will work to identify those sources of particulate emissions currently not managed through air care programs, and come up with reduction options that can help address human health concerns.
Today's announcement follows a new Metro Vancouver bylaw that came into force this past January to reduce diesel emissions from backhoes, excavators, forklifts and many other diesel-powered non-road machines, which were not covered by the AirCare program.
One of the priorities of Metro Vancouver's air quality program is to reduce emissions of diesel particulates - the soot or tiny particles in the exhaust of diesel-powered vehicles, equipment, ships and trains.
Both the Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley regional district boards have recommended to the Province that it change the focus of the AirCare program to reduce significant sources of diesel particulates.
"Addressing major sources of contamination - and diesel particulates is certainly one of them - is key to managing and improving air quality in the airshed we share with our neighbours in the Fraser Valley," said Metro Vancouver chair Greg Moore. "Together, we continue to make great strides in reducing air pollution, and the support of the Province of B.C. through management of heavy-duty vehicle emissions is an excellent next step in that process."
"It's time to explore shifting gears when it comes to battling vehicle emissions," said Lake. "Lower Mainland drivers have done their part by participating in AirCare, so we'll be reducing fees with a full phase-out of light-duty vehicle testing in 2014."
Currently, AirCare testing costs newer vehicle owners (1992-2006) $46 every two years. Older vehicles are tested every year at $23 per test. Failing an emission test can result in costly repairs. It is expected that the fee to inspect 1992-2006 vehicles will be reduced in 2014 to make it fair for car owners requiring an inspection in the final year of the program.
Other transportation emission reduction policies and programs led by the Province include:
- A new greenhouse gas reduction regulation that offers incentives to utility companies for natural gas transportation fleets - including buses, trucks or ferries, as well as the creation and operation of compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas fuelling stations.
- $2 million in seed money to set up a low-interest loan program to help businesses convert their heavy-duty diesel trucks and equipment to increase fuel efficiency, save money and reduce carbon emissions. It's anticipated this program could result in emission reductions of approximately 13,400 tonnes over the first three years. The program is part of an overall $17 million strategy for clean energy vehicles, infrastructure, home charging stations and the BC SCRAP-IT Society. The Clean Energy Vehicle point-of-sale incentive program provides up to $5,000 off the pre-tax sticker price for qualifying new battery electric, fuel cell electric, plug-in hybrid electric and compressed natural gas vehicles.
Ministry of Environment