Metro Vancouver's AirCare program ends after 22 years

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aircare-2004

Motorists in Metro Vancouver can watch the AirCare program drive off into the sunset as of December 31, 2014.

The vehicle emissions testing program started in 1992, and was designed to address cars deemed pollutants in Metro Vancouver.

In 2012, the B.C. government announced AirCare as we know it would come to an end at the conclusion of 2014. The then-Minister of the Environment, Terry Lake, remarked about the program’s terminus:

“Newer makes and models of light-duty vehicles are not the prime source of the blue smoke and pollution experienced on the road today,” said Lake. “When you look at most cars now, they run a lot cleaner than the vehicles rolling off the line when AirCare started in 1992.”

Rates for AirCare testing began an incremental drop starting in January 2014, ultimately winding up at just $12 to $14 in December.

Many car owners in Metro Vancouver felt that the AirCare fees and program was simply a government “cash grab.”

“The AirCare program is one of the most effective vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance programs in North America,” says TransLink, who happen to run the program. By the year 2000, vehicles from that and subsequent model years were only subjected to testing every two years, however it was at double the annual test cost.

In a memo to AirCare workers in the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU), union president Stephanie Smith said the union fought to keep AirCare running, however “the government refused to revisit their decision to cancel the program.”

A used car salesman tells CTV Vancouver that while some drivers found the program to be a costly burden, it did force people to fix their vehicles. Now those same drivers may opt to delay making the fixes, and may take to the roads in their cars that pollute the environment.

B.C. says AirCare has done its job, and fewer cars were failing the emissions tests.

Featured image: An AirCare facility in 2004 (Roland Tanglao/Flickr)

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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