What the change means for BC drivers
By Mercedes Deutscher, Staff Writer
Twenty-two years after the BC AirCare program was initiated in 1992, the program ended on January 1. AirCare was dedicated towards reducing the air pollution caused by vehicles.
As part of the AirCare program, any driver owning a vehicle was required to pass an emission test prior to renewing their auto insurance if their vehicle was seven years or older. Drivers were responsible for the $45 inspection fee that came as a result of the program.
In 2012, the BC Government announced that the AirCare program would be phased out by the end of 2014. Over the course of the past year, inspection rates dropped $2 per month for vehicles made after 1992, and $1 for vehicles from 1991 or earlier.
In a statement made by the Ministry of Environment, they indicated how successful the program had proven to be over its two decades of operation. “Since the program began in 1992, emissions from light-duty vehicles have decreased 89 per cent from 149,300 tonnes to an estimated 16,500 tonnes for 2014.”
The Ministry of Environment also stated that a decreased test failure rate and improved fuel efficiency are other reasons the AirCare program is being removed. In the past seven years, the inspection failure rate has dropped from 14 per cent to seven per cent.
AirCare has asked drivers to have their vehicles repaired if they are producing more emission than is otherwise permitted, and asks the public to assist in reporting vehicles that pollute excessively.
The discontinuation of AirCare also means that over 100 BC Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU) members will lose their jobs.
Dave Gourley, general manager of AirCare, has been an employee of AirCare since the program’s inauguration. “I think we all believed in what we were doing,” Gourley recounted to the Vancouver Sun. “We always strived to make the program as effective as it could be. … The main message here is that it was something that was necessary at the time.”
The Vancouver Sun also reported in a December 30 article that as part of AirCare’s legacy, the program is credited for having “reduced vehicle emissions by 31 per cent” over the past 22 years. The program was also credited with keeping drivers more environmentally aware.
For now, drivers will be able to save money when they go to renew their insurance. However, drivers can expect an average increase of $36 on their basic insurance plans due to the removal of the program as a way to help prevent monitor vehicle emissions.