Premier Doug Ford ending Drive Clean plan

Premier Doug Ford ending Drive Clean plan

The brakes are being slammed on the controversial Drive Clean auto emissions plan.

Premier Doug Ford announced Friday that as of April 1, the mandatory program would end for passenger cars and trucks.

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“By ending Drive Clean tests and repairs for passenger vehicles, this government is reducing the burden on residents and families who own a car,” Ford said at a service garage on Martin Grove Rd.

“They no longer need to take time out of their days to take their vehicles in for unnecessary tests,” the premier said, adding the government will save $40 million a year.

That’s because the previous Liberal government eliminated the $30 test fees last year, but Queen’s Park still had to foot the tab.

Created by former Tory premier Mike Harris in 1999, Drive Clean has long been a bone of contention for motorists because most vehicles passed their emissions tests.

Successive PC and Liberal governments had resisted the temptation to halt the program because it annually kept 335 tonnes of pollutants out of the air.

Cars and trucks are responsible for one third of all greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Frank Notte, of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, praised Ford for delivering “good news.”

“It cuts red tape, and saves time and money,” said Notte.

“What started out as a temporary program in 1999 to clean the environment, turned into a permanent program that eventually cleaned out taxpayers’ wallets instead.”

Transportation Minister John Yakabuski said details of the new anti-smog push for heavy-duty vehicles will be unveiled in the coming months.

“These changes will make a real, long-term difference for our air quality while respecting taxpayer dollars today,” he said.

Environment Minister Rod Phillips noted that over the past 19 years, Drive Clean has outgrown “its usefulness” because there was a steady annual decrease in the number of cars that failed tests.

Around 2 million vehicles are tested annually. In 2014, 135,000 cars and trucks failed the test.

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie

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