Mandatory emissions testing for most older vehicles will be a thing of the past in 2015 with the end of AirCare.

End of era as AirCare stations shut down

Cleaner vehicles cited as Lower Mainland emissions testing program scrapped

It’s the end of an era for drivers of older vehicles in the Lower Mainland.

AirCare stations will shut down for good on New Year’s Eve and come 2015 motorists will no longer line up to pay for mandatory emissions testing.

The requirement in order to get vehicle insurance in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley was widely seen by drivers as a costly nuisance, particularly as cars got cleaner and most vehicles passed without being forced to get a tune-up.

But defenders argue the provincial government was wrong to scrap the TransLink-operated program.

“We know air quality from vehicles has improved over the last 10 or 15 years because we’ve been monitoring vehicles,” said Vancouver Coun. Heather Deal, chair of Metro Vancouver’s environment and parks committee.

“It was a mistake to discontinue this program. It will endanger the incredibly positive impacts it’s had over the years.”

The province’s environment ministry cited “great progress” in reducing air pollution from light duty vehicles as emissions technology improved and noted the AirCare failure rate has fallen from 14 per cent in 2007 to less than eight per cent.

No new program has been announced to replace AirCare, but the province is expected to release a discussion paper in the spring on possible options to cut pollution from heavy trucks.

Deal said she’s hopeful something new comes to tackle diesel trucks because Metro testing on roads has found alarming emissions from some “gross emitters.”

Dave Gourley, general manager of AirCare, said he “absolutely” believes Lower Mainland residents have breathed easier because AirCare enforced pollution limits for 22 years.

He notes nearly one million vehicles failed AirCare tests at some point since the program began in 1992. Most were repaired and returned to the road cleaner, while some others got early retirement.

So far this year more than 34,000 vehicles have failed AirCare, although that’s down from a peak of around 120,000 vehicles a year in the mid-1990s.

“The technology changed and the cars can more or less diagnose themselves,” Gourley said, making AirCare less relevant in recent years, at least in its current form.

“It’s hard to make an argument in favour of it,” he said. “I can’t honestly say anybody is going to die or the sky is going to turn brown.”

He said it’s too soon to say if enough drivers will now ignore check engine lights to significantly worsen vehicle pollution and air quality.

AirCare’s end here leaves just urban Ontario’s DriveClean program in Canada, although there are more than 30 similar emission control programs in the U.S., with some new ones still being added.

The program is revenue-neutral, with fees only used to cover the program expenses – $16 million in 2014.

Newer vehicles are exempt from testing and fees have been reduced this year.

Motorists whose insurance expires in the dying days of 2014 have a couple of options to avoid a final AirCare test.

One way is to not renew the policy until 2015 and perhaps take transit or find other ways to get around for a couple of days.

Gourley says drivers can also get short-term or temporary insurance from ICBC to bridge them over to early 2015.

For those who stick to tradition, AirCare staff will be on duty until 5 p.m. Wednesday.

“The doors will roll down around that time and that will be the end of an era.”

But even with AirCare gone and gasoline prices down, motorists face other rising expenses in 2015.

An ICBC rate hike means the average motorist will pay $40 more in 2015 for basic insurance, if regulators approve the increase.

Just Posted

Mattress Recycling lays down roots in Hope

The recycling firm—the largest of its kind in western Canada—has opened a facility in Hope

Development on the horizon for Harrison Hot Springs Marina

The property has been the subject of a number development proposals over the years

‘Big hearts and even bigger feet’: Comedian sends Harrison humour to the silver screen

Jonny Harris will see the town highlighted on his small-town comedy series ‘Still Standing’

‘Near zero visibility’ as fog blankets B.C.’s south coast

Environment Canada warns drivers to be careful

UPDATE: Domestic incident leads to double stabbing in Chilliwack

Robert Charles Fleming in custody after alleged assault at townhouse sending two to hospital

UK lawmakers reject Brexit deal in 432-202 vote

House of Commons votes against the deal struck between Britain’s government and the EU

Millennial Money: Don’t let Instagram envy get you into debt

A full 48 per cent of U.S. households have credit card debt

Jury debates fate of man accused of killing 12-year-old B.C. girl 40 years ago

Police allege Garry Handlen told a cop how he abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled Monica Jack in May 1978

Letters on way to all homeowners in B.C. speculation tax communities

Property owners have to register to avoid vacant-home tax

New orca calf in Salish Sea ‘healthy and active’

Birth cause for celebration but things still dire genetically, expert says

Good Samaritan rescues cat found in heaps of garbage at B.C. landfill

The cat was abandoned and left to die at the Foothills Boulevard Regional Landfill, the BC SPCA says

Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna home to Canada’s most expensive rentals: report

According to PadMapper, units in larger B.C. cities cost $1,300 to more than $3,000

Former MP Svend Robinson wants to return to politics

Robinson is expected to be acclaimed as the NDP candidate in the riding of Burnaby North-Seymour

Most Read