Metro passes new fees to punish dirty diesels
Owners of the most soot-spewing diesel machines will be hit with hefty fees starting next year to push them to upgrade their engines.
Metro Vancouver's board voted Friday to pass the new bylaw regulating off-road engines, despite objections from some heavy equipment users.
It will charge the most polluting machines hundreds and eventually thousands of dollars a year depending on the horsepower rating, although there's a provision for owners to recoup 80 per cent of the fees by retrofitting or replacing the engine.
Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini, who chairs Metro's environment committee, called the new system of fees the most significant measure the region can take to reduce the risk of cancer from air toxins.
"The benefits far outweigh the cost of implementation and the cost to the industry," he said.
Langley City Coun. Gayle Martin, who voted against the bylaw, said she would have preferred to put more money and effort into ensuring AirCare stations crack down on heavy diesel trucks.
"I'm not against the intent of this bylaw but I think we could have allowed more time for those who need to retrofit or replace their engines," she said.
North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton and North Vancouver City Mayor Darrell Mussatto also voted against the bylaw after hearing a delegation from North Vancouver-based Dynamic Equipment Rentals, which opposed the fees.
Metro district director of air quality Ray Robb said the region will work with small business and advocate for federal funding to help subsidize engine upgrades.
He defended the measures as critical to reducing airborne diesel particulate – one of the most significant threats to human health among air contaminants.
"It will speed the migration to cleaner engines," Robb said. "So it will save lives. And it will deliver health care benefits worth many times the cost of reducing these emissions."
Unlike on-road diesel engines, which have become steadily cleaner through tougher standards, off-road equipment hasn't been targeted until much more recently and typically keep running far longer than trucks.
Some directors expressed concern heavily polluting machines may relocate to the Fraser Valley Regional District but continue to occasionally work here.
Metro officials hope law-abiding operators and local residents will help keep watch for violators.
Two inspectors are being hired to enforce the new rules.
METRO'S DIESEL CRACKDOWN
- Fees start at $4 per horsepower in 2012 and climb to $20 by 2017.
- Those fees apply on the worst Tier 0 engines (typically pre-1996) and kick in two years later on Tier 1 engines. Cleaner Tier 2 to 4 engines are exempt.
- A 120-horse excavator would pay $480 at first, rising to $2,400 per year if the engine isn't upgraded or replaced.
- 80 per cent of fees paid in the previous three years is refunded for owners who upgrade.
- Worst Tier 0 machines must carry a 'T0' decal.
- Only off-road equipment is affected and there are many exemptions, including farm and recreational machinery, emergency standby generators and machines under 25 horsepower.