Idle free initiatives continue

Idle free initiatives are not new to Red Deer but City council has decided to continue with an ongoing education campaign and plans to revisit the successes and options in 2015.

The idle free initiatives began in 2008 when a bylaw was suggested, but council and City staff recommended that an education campaign might be more effective.

Environmental Initiatives Supervisor Nancy Hackett said there are those people who won’t change their ways unless a bylaw is implemented, but that there are others who simply need to be educated to make better choices.

“There is a misconception about the need to idle vehicles so using an education campaign allows people to change their behaviour voluntarily,” said Hackett.

The education campaign focuses on four key areas to broaden the awareness in the community as far as what idling a vehicle does to the environment.

In 2009 the internal or corporate fleet committed to being idle free which resulted in a savings of over $72,000. Signs were posted at City facilities and the campaign was re-launched in 2011 with new initiatives to keep the message fresh for staff.

“The City’s desire to be idle free has resulted in observable positive behaviour and establishes the City as a positive role model for citizens and other municipalities,” said Hackett.

In June 2010 local schools jumped on board with the program encouraging parents, teachers and bus drivers to not idle.

“This initiative works especially towards creating a safe and healthy learning environment and protect the air quality in the areas around the schools which are more residential.”

In June 2011 business, commercial and institutional initiatives were also started.

The general public awareness campaign has been ongoing and includes increased information sharing through signage.

“For 2012, an idle free community program has been planned. Unfortunately, the impact of not doing something is hard to measure.”

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said he likes seeing that so much has been accomplished and that many businesses have jumped on board.

Hackett said some areas that they would like to target in the 2012 campaign include the Red Deer College, some companies that manufacture remote starters for cars as well as more schools.

Flewwelling said he likes the idea of targeting the schools and that renewing the project is a good way to go because educating a group once doesn’t mean the campaign is done.

“Educating the children is the best way to educate the public,” he said.