Is it too early to write this off as a lame-duck council?
The Economic Development and Planning Committee (EcDev) is putting the brakes on Mayor Fred Eisenberger's proposed anti-idling bylaw, which would prohibit cars from idling for more than three minutes.
We already know idling is bad: there's no mechanical justification for it (cars need a maximum of 30 seconds to warm up), it pollutes the air unnecessarily, it wastes fuel, and it's even bad for the vehicles themselves.
A host of other municipalities has already banned idling, some several years ago. Hamilton itself already acknowledged last year (when the previous council defeated a proposed anti-idling bylaw because they didn't want to spend money on an enforcement officer) that idling is harmful, and encouraged Hamiltonians not to idle with a public education campaign.
We also know education campaigns don't work. Most people understand that idling is bad; but we do it anyway because without a legal imperative, not being cold is more compelling than not being harmful.
Nevertheless, in yesterday's Hamilton Spectator, Eric McGuinness reported that EcDev is putting it off until March 20 "so staff can provide more information on enforcement, fines and exemptions."
EcDev chair Dave Mitchell, the councillor from Glanbrook who is also trying to prevent the city from making rural Hydro corridors into walking and cycling trails, doesn't support the ban.
Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson has come out in opposition as well, claiming the law is "authoritarian" and "unenforcable".
Roy Green interviewed Ferguson on his CHML radio program yesterday and asked about his opposition to the ban (sorry, the audio file is proprietary WMA format):
Green opens his program like this:
Do you really, really, really, do you really, really believe we need an anti-idling bylaw in Hamilton or Burlington or anywhere? Do you really believe we need legislation for this, or is this just another case of Big Brother finding something to do, Big Brother looking for something to do, and finding something to do, passing another law, another restriction on our freedoms, another common sense assault?
It goes downhill from there, as Green brings Ferguson onto the show and they have a big ol' libertarian love-in about the evils of big government meddling in people's personal affairs, with scarcely a word about the fact that the foundation of libertarianism is that people should be left alone as long as their actions do not hurt others.
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