BC's Minister of the Environment did the right thing by axing AirCare
Terry Lake has won over the normally jaded political watchers inside City Caucus Tower to be voted by us as BC's Politician of the Week™. The normally low key Minister of the Environment made a decisive move that by all accounts so far has resonated with the public – he's put AirCare on notice and plans to shut it down by December 2014.
The decision is not only good for the environment, it's a smart move politically. The BC NDP are a labour union party first and foremost, and they don't take kindly to seeing public sector employees losing their jobs. While it's regrettable that these employees will have to find other work, AirCare in its present form is no longer worth continuing.
We here at City Caucus might be the only media outlet who have advocated outright to shut down AirCare. In early 2011 my colleague Daniel Fontaine proposed that we close the stations down and take that vehicle tax and put it into transit. It flew in the face of recommendations by Metro Vancouver to continue the program until 2020.
And just two months ago I weighed in with my own objections to keeping AirCare going, even citing an influential essay by Malcolm Gladwell that argues that broad auto emissions testing is the height of government overkill. Credit goes to CKNW reporter Janet Brown who reported on the high cost of running AirCare for the station's Waste Patrol series.
Clearly Minister Lake heard these concerns and others. In interviews he's pointed out that today’s passenger vehicles are far cleaner than they were in 1992, when AirCare started, and are no longer the prime source of pollution found on the road today. They'll focus on larger diesel vehicles, and consult with stakeholder groups to figure out the best way to mitigate any health concerns.
Lake said that this is a break for taxpayers – no more $45 fee every two years after Dec. 31st, 2014 – and it also shows respect for people's time. Driving your car around and queuing up to wait for your test is not an experience many of us are likely to miss.
So thank you, Minister Lake. Shutting down AirCare is a common sense decision that the public will fully support.
- post by Mike