As a member of ACCCC - Rainbow Region and now a director of SVAO, I have been trying to meet with MPPs of Niagara-area ridings over the past few years. After my November 11, 2013 request to meet with Jim Bradley (MPP - St. Catharines), I got an response from his constituency assistant on the following day stating that she will let Mr. Bradley know that I would still like to meet with him. I thought this was a brush-off until I got a follow-up reply on February 10, 2014 asking me if I would be interested meeting with representatives from the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Transportation so I could present our Chapter's issues and concerns about current legislation. I'd like to think that this was done because of Mr Bradley's interest in his constituents rather than because he was prompted by Premier Wynne after my meeting with her on February 8 at the Liberal Pasta Dinner.
On April 2, Chris Whillans (President, SVAO) and I met with the Ministry of Environment's Rick Lalonde (Provincial Officer & Supervisor, Sector Compliance Branch) and Theo Martens (Senior Emissions Technical Advisor, Drive Clean Office) at the MOE's Drive Clean office in Toronto. We discussed the SVAO's concerns about a few issues with some of the current rules and regulations as well as the Province's new web site.
When members of the specialty vehicle community had questions about Ontario's emission regulations, SVAO would often refer them to the Drive Clean web site. However, the Province recently revised all Ministry web sites to a new format without apparently consulting the Drive Clean Office's front line troops, which made the Drive Clean site less user-friendly. The intent behind removing the very useful frequently asked questions was to get people to contact the Drive Clean Call Centre (1-888-758-2999) for answers to such inquiries. If the Call Centre can't provide answers, then the questions will be referred to either Theo or Rick. SVAO's opinion is that the loss of such valuable on-line information would only result in public dissatisfaction. With the web site revision, SVAO will need to update its links so that visitors can easily find Drive Clean information about pre-1988 vehicles and hot rods. Chris thought that SVAO may need to put those Q & A's back up on the SVAO web site along with a note about how the new Drive Clean site should work.
Chris and I also spent a considerable amount of time discussing the SVAO's concerns on the grandfathering of the "rolling 20" exclusion for the biennial testing and the fact that the only existing exclusion is for historic-plated vehicles (only available at 30 years of vehicle age). Our concern was that the potential lack of vehicle-specific emission parts for older vehicles will make it very difficult for them to pass emission tests. The reason for our concern is that OEMs often obsolete parts after 10 years and the aftermarket then supplies generic parts that fit an often wide variety of vehicles instead of a specific vehicle.
With older vehicles potentially not being able pass emission tests, SVAO's concern is that the pool of vehicles available for the specialty vehicle community will be scrapped-out rather than maintained and/or restored. The MOE felt that this is a non-issue, especially with the availability of the $450 conditional pass. For a pre-OBDII vehicle, if it can't pass the 2-speed idle test (much less stringent than the previous dyno test) then the MOE's position is that the vehicle really is a gross polluter that should not be on the road. If emission test failures due to generic or unavailable parts becomes enough of an issue, Drive Clean will address it at that time. Since the amount of vehicles 20+ year-old vehicles become increasingly smaller with increasing age, SVAO is concerned that there will never be enough vehicles for this become a major issue for the Ministry of Environment and that the conditional pass still doesn't help the vehicle owner wanting to sell his vehicle..
During our discussion of the "rolling 20 exemption", the MOE pointed out that most 1988-93 model year vehicles DID pass their 2012 Drive Clean test (about 73.7 % passed, 26.3% failed) on their first try. SVAO's position is that the number of vehicles of this age still being driven regularly is very small which makes their overall effect on air quality also very small due to their modest failure rate. I mentioned that the MOE and MTO have been very resistant (obstructive?) in providing us (SVAO and Cindy Forster's office) with vehicle emission and population data. Chris suggested that, rather than forcing future vehicle owners to get restrictive-use historic plates to avoid Drive Clean tests, SVAO would at least like to see the instatement of a "rolling 30 exemption" for regular-plated vehicles.
We also discussed self-regulation with respect to emissions in the specialty vehicle community. I pointed out that ACCCC has annual touring inspection program where member vehicles are given a mechanical inspection, the extent of which varies somewhat among its chapters. Inspection stickers are given out to vehicles passing the inspection and the club keeps records of the inspections, including items that require remedial action. While ACCCC could potentially include an emission system inspection, SVAO finds that, for whatever reason, a number of specialty vehicle owners choose not to belong to recognized clubs (where emission-related self-regulation could be organized). Another challenge with some hot rod owners is that many do not understand how emission systems work and often emission controls are disabled or removed for esthetic or performance reasons. Information about emission controls would be a useful on-line resource for the specialty vehicle community.