Premier Doug Ford, centre, speaks to the media with Rod Phillips, right, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and John Yakabuski, Minister of Transportation regarding the decision to cancel the Ontario Drive Clean program in Toronto, on Sept. 28, 2018. NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANADIAN PRESS

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

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.

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the Drive Clean program, which tests emissions every two years on cars and light-duty trucks over seven years old, is outdated and no longer effective.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.”

Related: Carbon tax would cut 90M tonnes of emissions by 2022, government projects

Related: Carbon tax breakdown: Understanding issues around the policy tool

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ponoka mayor & council takes on province for recreation funding

Mayor Rick Bonnett wants school requisition for three years

Ponoka County on the hook for rubber tire shredder

Cost of large shredder may yet fall completely on county as problems arise

Ponoka council approved a cannabis retail sales bylaw

Along with retail sales, the cannabis consumption bylaw was approved

Ponoka County approves Morningside ASP, MDP and North West decision is deferred

More information on protecting existing CFOs necessary prior to North West ASP approval

Ponoka parent speaks of gratitude during Legion’s candlelight vigil

The Ponoka Legion’s special candlelight vigil at the cemetery is a reminder of past sacrifices

Rick Mercer says pot is ‘excruciatingly boring’

Comedian hopes Canadians will move onto something else once marijuana is legalized

U.S. pot firm urges Trump to deny Canadian producers ‘competitive advantage’

The challenge for U.S. firms lies in the fact that while recreational cannabis is legal in nine states and medicinal pot in 22 others, it remains illegal under federal law

How rules for inmate segregation in Canada will change under Bill C-83

Federal government proposing changes to rules around inmates in federal correctional institutions

Canada Post union issues strike notice; rotating strikes could begin Monday

Union says rotating strikes will begin if agreements aren’t reached with bargaining units

Ponoka family remembers fallen WWI soldier

A Ponoka soldier killed in action in the Great War is remembered

Annual Texas Longhorn show and sale draws local and international attention

ATLA part of a growing Canadian market for Texas Longhorn genetics

$500,000 goal well within reach for Ponoka’s Festival of Trees

Annual fundraiser just under $137,000 from attaining its long-term goal for the Ponoka hospital

Killer-rapist Paul Bernardo set for parole bid after 25 years in prison

Bernardo’s parole hearing at the Bath Institution is expected to attract numerous observers

St. Augustine Queens trip a fantastic victory in Turkey Burner home tournament

Ponoka’s Catholic school volleyball squads capture three medals

Most Read