KENTVILLE ó Town council here has decided not to sit idly by on the issue of global warming.
Kentville is the first municipality in Atlantic Canada to pass a bylaw banning the idling of motor vehicles within its boundaries.
A similar bylaw is in place in more than four dozen other places across the country.
The new law, passed this week, makes it illegal to leave a motor vehicle idling for more than three minutes in town.
Exceptions include emergency vehicles on a call, armoured cars, vehicles involved in work in which a running engine is required to provide power for auxiliary equipment, and vehicles that may be held up in traffic by an emergency, funeral, tie-ups or weather.
Drivers are also allowed to idle their vehicles to provide power or heat for defogging or de-icing a windshield when no reasonable alternative is available.
Coun. Eric Bolland, who helped push for the bylaw, says that means turning on the car for several minutes is OK when itís encrusted in ice, but not when there is only a thin film of frost that can be removed with a scraper.
Penalties range from a minimum fine of $150 to a maximum of $10,000.
Mr. Bolland said council is optimistic that residents and visitors will embrace the anti-idling ethic. He said the bylaw is meant less as an enforcement measure than as an educational tool and a means of promoting good health and a cleaner environment.
"Measures to maintain good air quality and limit pollution are important for our overall good environmental and human health," Mr. Bolland said. "This is especially true for the very young and our elderly citizens, who are most susceptible to health conditions impacted by poor air quality."
He said that close to 10 per cent of children in the province suffer from asthma, and as many as one in five have respiratory problems.
But it's far more easier to get money from your average citizen.
Mr. Bolland said the move also makes good economic sense because of high fuel prices.
He said the most common cases of idling in town involve delivery vehicles and people waiting outside a store while someone else shops.
And in the summer.... how about sitting in the sun on a 30 degree afternoon with no air conditioning?
Mr. Bolland said he expects the law will make people more conscious of the problem and stop idling, much as the new cellphone law has reduced the number of people talking on the phone while driving.
He said recent surveys showed there is overwhelming support for plans to reduce vehicle idling.