B.C.’s AirCare program, which many Metro Vancouver motorists have regarded as a costly headache despite its vaunted role in cutting carbon dioxide emissions, is being phased out.
The provincial government announced Thursday that the 20-year-old AirCare will stop tailpipe testing of light cars and trucks at the end of 2014 and turn its attention to heavy-duty diesel vehicles.
Environment Minister Terry Lake said newer cars are much cleaner now — a point argued over the years by AirCare’s many critics.
“With new technology in cars, what we’re seeing is the incremental benefits to the airshed are smaller and smaller,” Lake said Thursday.
The Environment Ministry has estimated the AirCare program takes 20,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions out of the lower Fraser Valley airshed every year.
Passenger vehicles are exempt from the program for the first seven model years. Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 1992 pay $23 each year for tests while owners of newer vehicles pay $46 for tests every two years after the seven-year exemption.
Lake called the fees a significant cost to families.
AirCare was introduced in 1992 because of warnings from experts that Vancouver’s air quality would be worse than that of Los Angeles by 2010