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Ontario to scrap Drive Clean emissions test, target heavy duty vehicles instead


TORONTO – Ontario’s Drive Clean vehicle emissions testing program
will be dismantled next year and replaced with a new system that
will focus on heavy-duty vehicles such as transport trucks, the
government said Friday.
The Progressive Conservative government said the Drive Clean
program, which tests emissions every two years on cars and
light-duty trucks over seven years old, is outdated and no longer
effective.
In a news conference Friday, Premier Doug Ford said the program
worked well when it was introduced in 1999 and but grew less useful
as the automotive industry adopted more stringent emissions
standards.
“Drive Clean was created almost 20 years ago but 20 years later,
the family car now creates much less pollution. So Drive Clean has
outlived its usefulness,” he said.
Only five per cent of vehicles failed the test last year,
compared with 16 per cent in 1999, and the trend is expected to
continue, the government said.
The Tories said a new program will be introduced to target
emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, which they say have weaker
emissions standards and get replaced less frequently.
“With the light-duty vehicle program gone, we will be able to
better focus … on the biggest polluters on the road: transport
trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles,” Environment Minister Rod
Phillips said.
“More vehicles will be tested and almost twice as many polluting
vehicles will be repaired. This means tougher on-road inspections,
stronger enforcement that will ensure owners are accountable and
properly maintaining their vehicle’s emissions.”
The government said the proposed changes will be subject to a
30-day public consultation, and are scheduled to take effect on
April 1, 2019. It further said the move is expected to save the
province $40 million each year.
The previous Liberal government made the test free last year and
proposed a pilot project that would allow the test to be carried out
remotely through on-board diagnostics.
Drive Clean has previously come under fire for amassing
multimillion-dollar surpluses, even though it was supposed to be a
revenue neutral program. Ontario’s former auditor general warned in
2012 that could land the province in legal trouble, because it’s a
user fee, not a tax.
Friday’s announcement was met with praise by some in the
automotive industry and questions from some political opponents.
“Ontario is now in the mainstream, becoming the last province to
eliminate their mandatory vehicle emissions program,” said Frank
Notte of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, which
represents more than 1,000 new car dealers in Ontario.
“No longer will auto dealers waste money on equipment and
overhead costs, freeing up money to invest in their business.”
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said that while he can accept
that the program is no longer as relevant as it once was, scrapping
it is part of a pattern for this government.
“When you look at the list of things this government has done on
the environment file, all you see are cuts. They have axed pollution
pricing, clean energy contracts, energy retrofits and (electric
vehicle) rebates, in addition to repealing climate change laws,” he
said.
“The cancellation of Drive Clean might have little impact one
way or another. But it is part of a larger trend of ideologically
driven decisions that are out of touch with the future of clean jobs
and prosperity.”
News from Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. © 2018