Ville de Gatineau
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Idling engines
Idling engines

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You may be getting cooler, but the planet's getting warmer... Turn off your engine!

In order to harmonize its by-law with the criteria established by the ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques and to further reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs), Gatineau has amended its by-law on idling engines. This new by-law came into force on October 1, 2008.

By-law 300-6-2008 (in French only) stipulates that vehicle engines may idle for no more than three minutes in any given 60-minute period. Any contravention of this by-law is subject to a $50 fine. However, there are exceptions for the following vehicles:

  • emergency vehicles;
  • taxis between November 1 and March 31 when there is someone in the car;
  • heavy vehicles when the motor has to be running for a pre-departure inspection, as provided under section 519.2 of the Highway Safety Code;
  • a vehicle at a standstill because of a traffic jam, heavy traffic, traffic light or mechanical problem;
  • a vehicle that has to be kept running during its maintenance or repair;
  • a heavy vehicle whose engine generates power for auxiliary equipment used at work, or a vehicle that has a heating or cooling system to conserve merchandise or transport animals;
  • an armoured security vehicle when it is on duty;
  • a vehicle that runs on hydrogen or electricity, or a hybrid vehicle; and
  • a vehicle that is coated in frost or freezing rain until it is cleared enough for safe driving.


  • Unnecessary idling worsens smog and climate change, and wastes fuel and money.
  • Excessive idling is not an efficient way of warming up your engine. You are much better off driving very slowly when you want to warm up your car in the cold. Another option is to use a block heater.
  • Unnecessary idling can damage your engine parts, including cylinders, spark plugs and the exhaust system.
  • Remote car starters are generally used to turn on engines too soon before leaving, resulting in unnecessary idling.
  • Turn off the engine when...
    • waiting for a passenger;
    • waiting for a train to go by at a crossing;
    • stopping to talk to a friend; or
    • stopping at the convenience store.
  • When the drive-through line is too long, park your car instead and place your order at the counter inside. This will mean less idling for your engine!
  • Naturally, active transportation modes, such as walking, biking and inline skating, not to mention buses and car sharing, are the best ways of reducing GHG emissions!

Marche au ralentiOn its Web site, Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency indicates that “if every driver of a light duty vehicle avoided idling by three minutes a day, collectively over the year, we would save 630 million litres of fuel, over 1.4 million tonnes of GHG emissions, and $630 million annually in fuel costs.”

Go ahead, give the environment a helping hand. After all, the environment is everybody's business!

1. Quebec's Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs and Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency.

About Gatineau

Recognized for its quality of life, Gatineau is a city of 292,000 inhabitants. It is located on the north shore of the Ottawa River, and extends east and west of the Gatineau River.

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