Idle City Hall Minds Create Stupid Idling Bylaw


This is sheer unadulterated stupidity.

How do you enforce a bylaw on how long you can idle your car?

Do bylaw officers sit in wait ready to pounce on the miscreant? Do they idle their cars while they wait for the offender?

City hall fiddles while Ottawa burns. The Byward Market has gone from annoying to dangerous. What was once a tourist gem is now a dump. And city hall’s method of dealing with the market … appoint a night mayor for this nightmare.

City hall has badly damaged the transit system which, if it were working correctly, would prevent much more greenhouse gas than any anti-idling bylaw. City hall is responsible for butchering measures to slow climate change … as though the city and its public can actually have any effect on the global problem of climate change.

And now our public servants and pols living in a bubble on Laurier Avenue want to crack down on car idling. Is this just stupid? Is it incompetent? Is it a deflection from all the ineptitude at city hall? Do they actually believe this ridiculousness will work? And how do you enforce a bylaw that you can’t enforce?

One of the basic premises of good governance is that you can only create effective laws if society supports them. That’s why people stop at red lights. That’s why we frown on murder.

People who think idling your car is a bad idea won’t idle their car. People who don’t care will idle. Much like the idle minds of the people behind this bylaw. There is no consensus on car idling. Some people won’t. Others will because they don’t like to be cold. No bylaw will stop them.

So stop wasting your time and our time. Don’t expect drivers to go to their cars with stopwatches to see how long they can  idle them. I don’t idle my car because I dress warmly and want to get there, not watch my car run going nowhere. Sometimes I know stupid when I see it. This idling bylaw is stupid.

We have serious problems in this serious city. We need serious leaders to deal with these serious problems. This city government is not serious. It is laughable. It is butchering good governance.

And remember that if the public ignores stupid bylaws, sooner or later it will start ignoring smart bylaws. Stupid bylaws create problems for municipal administrative legitimacy. And if legitimacy goes, we’re all in trouble.

Stop wasting people’s time. Fix the problems that need fixing. Don’t create problems that aren’t there by trying to fruitlessly control basic human nature. Get real.

When do we get a bylaw on eating too much, breathing too much or defecating too much?

Ken Gray


And on the subject of defecation, this is a release from the City of Ottawa:

In 2007, the City of Ottawa took steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality by enacting the Idling Control By-law. The City is currently reviewing this by-law and is looking for your feedback on vehicle idling in Ottawa.

Vehicles on public and private property are permitted to idle for up to three minutes in a 60-minute period when the outdoor temperature is between 5°C and 27°C. If it’s colder than 5°C or warmer than 27°C outside, there are currently no restrictions on idling time limits. Exceptions exist for certain vehicles and situations.

We invite residents to share their feedback on vehicle idling and the Idling Control By-law by completing an online survey on Engage Ottawa. The survey will be open for responses until Friday, March 15.

Visit Engage Ottawa for more information about our review of the Idling Control By-law and to participate in the online survey.


Transpo’s Financial Outlook … Dismal: PATTON

City Needs All The Fines It Can Get: THE VOTER

Is Snow Parking Ban Just Another Tax? PATTON

Everything Ottawa      Full Local     Bulldog Canadian
Opinion    Comments    Breaking News    Auto
Ontario   World    Get Cheap Gas   Big Money
Pop Gossip   Your Home    Relax …   Tech
Bulldog Weather    Full Local Sports
TV/Movies   Travel
Page 2   Page 3   Page 4   Page 5   Page 6


Other features:    Full Bulldog Index    Return to Bulldog Home

25 Responses

  1. Andrew says:

    When I was working downtown on 16-20 celsius June days there were hundreds of busses and trucks Idling in a day while drivers were eating lunch or outside having a smoke. Why? The bylaw does have limits which seem reasonable (5-27 degrees). Some people have respiratory diseases that wait outside their building for transport and unnecessary Idling is a hazard. Others have apartments with windows close to the street. Bylaw is complaint driven, and will warn drivers of the bylaw, rather than ticket. I have no problem turning my car off, It saves me money as well.

  2. Angela Keller-Herzog says:

    Hey Ken,

    You know they proved a link between smoking and lung cancer. And then they restricted our freedom to smoke in bars and places. Looked at the other way, it provided the freedom to breathe better air in bars.

    So then they proved a link between urban air quality and cardiovascular and respiratory health, especially asthma. And one of the consequences is that municipalities have idling by-laws. It makes sense. It is a public health issue.

    Idling by-law enforcement would be particularly useful I think right beside school yards where kids are breathing in exhaust unnecessarily.

    And don’t get me started on truckers leaving their diesel engines running with both fumes and noise.

    So I say: bring on this by-law! Show us what you got public health keen minds at City Hall.

  3. Theresa Peluso says:

    Could it also be that people idle their engines because they don’t realize how harmful it is to the environment, and how it’s an unnecessary waste of fuel? The sneering tone of this article and the lack of an attempt to understand the reasoning behind this initiative demonstrates a lack of competent reporting.

  4. sisco farraro says:

    Nonsense ladies. You’ve been fooled by the environmental propagandists. Please provide the “facts” that support your concerns, not emotional outpourings. Thanks.

  5. The Voter says:


    The craziest part of the exhaust fumes being spewed at children in school playgrounds is that the source is often the cars of parents or nannies there on the school run to pick kids up. They arrive twenty minutes (or more) before school’s out so they can get the coveted spots at the front of the line. They sit there with the vehicle idling because their precious cargo can’t get into a cold car.

    In good weather, they socialize with the other drivers while they wait. The number of times I’ve been tempted to jump into one of those empty, idling cars and drive off … I’m sure the judge would sympathize, right?

    I do wonder, however, if a good public education campaign might have more effect. This would be particularly useful in our schools. The kids take those messages home and have been known to change behaviour.

  6. Kosmo says:

    Is this really the work being done down at 110 Laurier? Lord help us all!!!

  7. John Langstone says:

    It seems to me that the worst offenders I see are City and Police vehicles. Perhaps, if we really want to limit idling (and not take in a little money), perhaps traffic signals in town could be a bit better synchronized to limit the idling time waiting at red lights.

  8. Ken Gray says:


    Is there anyone left in Ottawa who doesn’t know the problems with idling?

    They do it because they do it, not because they don’t know better.



  9. Ron Benn says:

    I pass through Tunneys Pasture about once a month. Whilst waiting for my westbound bus (often a 10-15 minute wait) it is common to see 10-12 OC Transpo diesel burners idling while the drivers are on a break. Not just in the winter.

    The city might want to start at home. Who knows, maybe they could save on fuel expenses as well.

  10. Ken Gray says:

    Hey Angela (my father would say ‘hey’ is for horses):

    Don’t you catch the overwhelming irony of a city demanding limits on idling when it has caused tens of thousands of cars to idle in heavy traffic because of late construction and, worse, the butchered public transit system.

    The city is in no position to be discussing idling. It has caused the vast, vast majority of idling.

    Has the city no shame?

    Yes, let’s bring on an ineffective, impossible-to-enforce bylaw.

    The city is bankrupt of common sense. Maybe it comes from living in a bubble and not in the real world where a generous employer is a rarity.



  11. Ken Gray says:


    Forty-six years in journalism and I’m getting lectured by someone who, probably, has not spent a day in it.

    Just to bring you up to speed, that’s opinion, not reporting.



  12. Bruce says:

    Ken Nice to see a topic which brings out both sides of the discussion. I drove Limo during the start of the anti idle bylaw and we had to abide by it or else. Customers do not like getting into a cold or worse hot car so drivers temporized and tried to judge when the customers would be wanting to get back in. Weddings in 30 degree C were especially difficult so I can understand the issue. I do think you have taken a hard line on this one.

  13. Annette Goldenberg says:

    First of all By-law in Ottawa is the biggest joke that ever existed in Ottawa ever. Call them and let them know is going on the street where you live something that happens everyday, have you seen them? No neither have I, also there is 2 handicap parking at the side door of our building I’ve also called about the contractors working in our building parking in those 2 spots and there is no room for the handicap to park. The contractors don’t care neither does the landlord. By-laws are never seen, let alone idling a car,is so so stupid I never in my life ever heard of this. Even in Barrhaven where were the by-law when they are needed? I think the City should get rid of all those lazy by-law people seeing they do nothing to help. Actually everything to do with this city is a complete joke. The city has to be the worst in Canada.

  14. Theresa says:

    Ken, I have done some reporting and written opinion pieces in the past, and subscribe to lots of news media with clearly competent reporters, who explain different angles of a topic before explaining their point of view. These reporters and opinion writers treat their readers as intelligent people, not people who mindlessly agree with some rant or other that they’ve read.

    As for your point that everyone knows idling contributes to (well-documented) health problems and carbon emissions, the fact is that they don’t, and your lambasting of this initiative contributes to this problem. I do agree that enforcement in this City is lax, and that one should stick to making laws one can enforce, but when/if this bylaw is passed, there is a middle group of residents who will be more conscientious about not idling their cars because they want to do what’s right, and who don’t need fear of punishment to do so. You don’t seem to be one of them, though.

  15. Jennifer Humphries says:

    It’s not primarily a question of cracking down. A good by-law is important, and enforcement – especially in the case of egregious violations (e.g. the Feb. 2022 convoy), is important too. But mostly it’s a question of public awareness. Like other cities have done, Ottawa can create awareness through signage and providing information about why we should turn off our engines when we aren’t going anywhere.
    It’s also a question of considering the health of others, over the individual’s freedom to do things that are harmful to others. Idling may not immediately or visibly injure anyone. But emissions from idling cause asthma, and are related to other respiratory diseases.
    While I agree that a popular, reliable transit system would reduce emissions, and I hope we get there soon, limiting the amount of unnecessary idling done by everybody – including OC Transpo and Ottawa Police – can be a significant contribution to the City’s air quality and to citizens’ health.
    The existing by-law is not stupid, but it needs updating. And the new by-law needs to include promotion, clear information, and lots of signage, especially around schools, daycares, clinics, hospitals, libraries, and other places that serve children and seniors.

  16. Michael Patton says:


    just to clear up a few issues from the comments. Many of the examples mentioned in the comments such as trucks idling, parents waiting for their kids etc. may be problematic to you but there are many exemptions to the by-law. But my main point to be clear is why on earth would you make a by-law more strict that you are not making any attempt to enforce today? If the City were to believe that this is a problem worthy of action, they could simply ask Bylaw to enforce it. To the best of my knowledge, City of Ottawa Bylaw has never ever, ever issued a ticket because they witnessed someone breaking this by-law, every ticket has that has been issued (about 3 a year) has been done as a direct result of a complaint by the public.

  17. Ron Benn says:

    Based on Mike’s observations, I am let to wonder whether this is but another tempest in a teapot, generated by people who report to work down at city hall (both elected and hired) to appear to be doing something, while accomplishing nothing.

  18. Ken Gray says:


    Thank you for your opinion. I didn’t realize you were an expert in journalism.

    As for me, I just try to do my best with what little intelligence I have.

    This is my resume which I’m sure is dwarfed by your patronizing expertise. Just click on Ken Gray for my pathetic background in the index at the top of the page or at the bottom of the page.



  19. Ken Gray says:


    I’ve never seen a city that loves rules more than Ottawa.



  20. Ken Gray says:


    Ottawa’s atmosphere does not operate in isolation.

    Most countries use the air as an atmospheric latrine. Our focus needs to change to there.

    If the world treated the atmosphere like Ottawa, global warming would not be a problem.



  21. Theresa says:

    Ken, I’ve read your bio and see that in the past you’ve spent many years in journalism (I have never subscribed to the newspapers you list, but appreciate that they’re mainstream publications). The fact is that, especially in the last 10 years, information sharing has been more and more polarizing and divisive, and your consistently hostile slant on City matters adds to that. There are many major problems facing us now, including extremism (reacting violently to anything you don’t agree with) and global heating, and fanning the flames with reporting that makes no effort to recognize the positive aspects of a course of action contributes to that. We need more constructive commenting, and I hope the Bulldog can be part of that effort. (By the way, I have NO affiliation with any of Ottawa’s city councillors.)

  22. Ken Gray says:


    I will do my best to meet your high standards.



  23. Kosmo says:


    My guess would be the city is preparing to enforce the bylaw.

    Let’s take after school pick up, parents start lining up 45 minutes before school is let out and if a bylaw officer arrives they can start issuing ticket almost immediately… or within one minute of arriving.

  24. Angela Keller-Herzog says:

    Dear Ken,
    Yes, I agree on the irony bit. But we got to start somewhere. And presumably the City fleets are not above the law.
    Also, I meant the ‘hey’ in a friendly greeting way, as in ‘hey neighbour’ . No horses involved.

  25. Ken Gray says:


    I see hey as a diminution of manners that we see in our society.

    The ascendancy of generation entitlement has resulted in a level of selfishness and disregard that makes boomers look like saints (they aren’t).

    I don’t use hey on anyone because I feel it demeans them. A mister or missus, maam, madam, their real name or sir or Ms. doesn’t hurt and shows a bit of respect in a world where respect is a rarity. It shows that you appreciate their presence and their good part of society.

    I go to South Carolina now and then to play golf and at the club I keep telling the folks there that they don’t have to call me Mr. Gray. We know each other well enough that first names are in order.

    “OK Mr. Gray.” It never happens. It’s a bit of a running joke we have but I think culture or club policy says Mr. or Ms.

    Anyway, a first-world problem.

    I believe I’m becoming a minority on this hey business.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Paid Content

Home   Full Bulldog Index