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Toronto’s Idling Control By-law

3 minute idle limitIdling and Air Quality
Contaminants from vehicle exhaust are major contributors to deteriorating air quality in Toronto. Recent studies by Health Canada and other agencies link a number of contaminants from vehicle emissions to significant respiratory health effects. Reducing these contaminants in Toronto’s air by restricting unnecessary idling is part of a comprehensive air quality strategy for the City. The goal of this strategy is to improve air quality and respiratory health.

What is the purpose of the by-law?
The by-law is intended to reduce unnecessary idling in the City. It limits idling to no more than three minutes in a given 60 minute period. The by-law allows transit vehicles to idle when picking up or discharging passengers and also allows limited idling when transit vehicles are waiting for passengers. As well, the by-law provides for idling during extreme outdoor temperatures to ensure heating or cooling inside a vehicle.

If you wish you may read the idling control by-law: Chapter 517 of the Municipal Code.

How will the by-law be enforced?
The City’s intention is to achieve compliance with the by-law through voluntary measures. If these measures are not successful, the by-law provides for a fine of up to a maximum of $5,000 for infractions of the by-law. For further information about issuing a complaint, by-law compliance or by-law enforcement, you may contact:

Permit Parking
City Hall
100 Queen St W
Main Floor, West Tower
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Phone: 416-392-7873 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 416-392-7873 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Fax: 416-392-1911

Why should we reduce the unnecessary idling of vehicles?
There are known environmental impacts and economic costs associated with vehicle emissions.

Environmental and Health Impacts

· Motor vehicles and related activities are the major sources of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, suspended particles and volatile organic compounds in the City. Nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds are the two main substances involved in the formation of ozone, a component of smog.

· Ozone and suspended particles are included in the group of chemicals associated with significant respiratory health effects and hospital admissions.

· Toronto Public Health has been promoting the idle-free message through its ongoing programs on smog and air quality, and the City’s Corporate Smog Alert Response Plan.

For further information about the environmental and health impacts of unnecessary idling, contact the Environmental Protection Office of Toronto Public Health at 416-392-6788 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 416-392-6788 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Economic Costs and Operational Impacts

· It has been estimated that 3 per cent of Ontario’s fuel is wasted by idling. An idling diesel engine will burn about 2.5 litres per hour. An idling gasoline engine will burn about 3.5 litres per hour. Ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine.

· Lubricant contamination occurs from excessive idling. This is because engine operation at idling temperatures creates soot deposits and condensation of water vapour that mixes with sulphur oxides to become sulphuric acid in the crankcase.

You may obtain further information about saving energy at the Energy Efficiency Web site.

What are the alternatives to unnecessary idling?

· From a cold start, it is better to warm up an engine by driving it rather than idling. Warm up times are reduced to half and fuel consumption is reduced.

· If you are concerned about turning off your engine because you may have trouble restarting it, a well maintained starter system and engine is a better alternative than idling.

A condition referred to as “hot stall”, where older diesel engines may be difficult to restart, should not occur if the engine is shut down properly.


Chapter 517


§ 517-1. Definitions.

§ 517-2. Restrictions on idling;


§ 517-3. Offences.

[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Toronto 1998-10-2 by By-law No.

673-1998. Amendments noted where applicable.]


Traffic and parking — See Ch. 950.

§ 517-1. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:

BOAT — A ship or any other description of vessel not propelled by oars and includes

a boat used exclusively for towing purposes, a water taxi and a boat used on

water for living purposes.

IDLE — The operation of the engine of a boat or vehicle while the vehicle or boat

is not in motion and not being used to operate auxiliary equipment that is essential

to the basic function of the vehicle or boat, and “idling” has a corresponding


LAYOVER — A stopping point along a transit route for a maximum of 15 minutes

used by transit vehicles to allow transit vehicles to adjust to service schedules.


A. A vehicle containing equipment that must be operated inside or in association

with the vehicle; or

B. A vehicle serving as a facility for taking measurements or making observations

operated by or on behalf of a municipality, public utility or police, fire or

ambulance service.

OFFICIAL — A police officer, police cadet, municipal law enforcement officer or

any person authorized to enforce this chapter.

STOPOVER — A scheduled delay of a maximum of 15 minutes at a transit vehicle

terminal to allow transit vehicles to adjust to service schedules.




TRANSIT VEHICLE — Public transit vehicles, tour buses and motor coaches.

VEHICLE — A motor vehicle, trailer, traction engine, farm tractor or road-building

machine as defined in the Highway Traffic Act1 and any vehicle drawn, propelled or

driven by any kind of non-muscular power, but does not include cars of electric or

diesel electric railways running only upon rails.

§ 517-2. Restrictions on idling; exceptions.

A. No person shall cause or permit a vehicle or boat to idle for more than three minutes

in a sixty-minute period.

B. [Amended 1999-5-12 by By-law No. 238-1999] Subsection A does not apply to:

(1) Police, fire or ambulance vehicles or boats while engaged in operational activities,

including training activities, except where idling is substantially for

the convenience of the operator of the vehicle or boat.

(2) Vehicles and boats assisting in an emergency activity.

(3) Ferry boats operated by the City of Toronto or the Toronto Harbour Commissioners

providing service to the Toronto Islands, including the Toronto Island


(4) Boats not at anchor or tied to a dock.

(5) Mobile workshops while they are in the course of being used for their basic


(6) Vehicles or boats where idling is required to repair the vehicle or boat or to

prepare a vehicle or boat for service.

(7) Armoured vehicles where a person remains inside the vehicle while guarding

the contents of the vehicle or while the vehicle is being loaded or unloaded.

(8) Vehicles or boats required to remain motionless because of an emergency, traffic,

weather conditions or mechanical difficulties over which the driver has no


(9) Vehicles or boats engaged in a parade or race or any other event authorized by


(10) Transit vehicles while passengers are embarking or disembarking en route or

in terminals.

(11) Transit vehicles while at a layover or stopover location except where idling is

substantially for the convenience of the operator of the vehicle.


Editor’s Note: See R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8.




(12) Vehicles transporting a person where a medical doctor certifies in writing that

for medical reasons a person in a vehicle requires that temperature or humidity

be maintained within a certain range.

(13) Vehicles or boats when the ambient temperature inside a vehicle or boat is:

(a) More than 27 degrees Celsius; or

(b) Less than 5 degrees Celsius.

§ 517-3. Offences.

[Amended 1999-11-25 by By-law No. 746-1999]

Every person who contravenes any provision of this chapter is guilty of an offence and on

conviction is liable to a fine as provided for in the Provincial Offences Act.2


Editor’s Note: Under section 61 of the Provincial Offences Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.33, a person convicted of an offence is liable

to a fine of not more than $5,000.

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