City partners with schools for idle free campaign

  • Apr. 24, 2013 3:03 p.m.

A new ad campaign was recently launched in Red Deer in an effort to reach parents who may need reminding that idling vehicles aren’t good for the health of the environment or their children.

Parents are encouraged to turn the key and be idle free for the health of their children in a new ad campaign titled ‘Spare our Air’.

The City of Red Deer continues to promote its idle free initiative including in their work with Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools and Red Deer Public Schools. Many schools are going idle free by choosing from a number of activities which include promoting the message through school ambassadors, installing idle free signage at pickup/drop-off locations, holding an assembly, using the teachers’ guide to share activities with students and/or including the message in newsletters.

The City is also challenging all Red Deer schools to join in the idle free campaign.

“Schools have been instrumental in advancing the message to turn off the engine if idling more than a minute. We like to say a minute or less is best,” said Lauren Maris, environmental program specialist. “But schools and students can only go so far in reminding parents to turn the key while dropping off or picking up their children. We hope parents understand that a small, easy change can have a big impact on air quality. Parents really are in the driver’s seat on this one.

“We hope by making this change on school property that it translates off school grounds as well.”

Research suggests children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution.

They breathe faster than adults and inhale more air per pound of body weight. Idling contributes to overall air quality, and air quality in Red Deer could use some improvement. Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development found measurements of airborne particulate matter at a Riverside Drive Air Monitoring Station in 2010 and 2011 were higher than acceptable Canada-wide standards.

The City of Red Deer’s Environmental Initiatives section has been driving the idle free program since 2009.

Its achievements include an internal idle free policy for City fleet, the Idle Free Schools program, and ongoing outreach with other individuals and organizations, including small and large businesses. In addition to 10 schools signing on, Sunnybrook United Church, Lafarge Canada, ATCO Gas, BMO, and AMA have all taken steps towards reducing unnecessary idling in their organizations.

“As we continue to move forward with our idle free program, we hope to breathe new life into the message by reaching parents specifically, and urging them to turn the key and be idle free,” said Maris.