Owners of gas sippers could enjoy preferred parking, special lanes
As early as next summer, Ontario motorists who drive hybrids or other low-emission vehicles will be entitled to an Ecolicence plate — and perhaps a slew of special privileges that go with it.
The provincial government, which announced the program Wednesday (here), won’t yet specify the type of entitlements and rebates it will offer. First, the province will set up a panel of experts from the automobile industry, environmental movement and others to determine which automobiles will be eligible for the special plates. The panel will look at cars, light trucks and commercial vehicles.
Once that’s done, perks are expected to be identified, said Anne O’Hagan, a spokesman for Environment Minister Lauren Broten.
In an interview Wednesday, Ms. O’Hagan said other jurisdictions have used such measures as tax rebates, preferred parking, reduced fees and the ability to use HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes. “That’s the type of thing,” she said.
But a look around at other places in the world, and even a peek at an Ikea parking lot in Ottawa where prime spots are saved for hybrids, shows that green membership is clearly starting to have its privileges.
Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and New Haven, Conn., are among the many American cities that offer free parking at meters to hybrids and other lowemission cars.
Some U.S. states, like California, have opened carpool lanes for hybrid drivers who apply for a special sticker, even if they’re travelling solo.
Some towns even offer extra-special perks, like the free beach passes given to low-emission vehicle owners in Huntington, N.Y.
One of the most unusual is the proposed $500 credit toward city services like swimming lessons or ice-skating classes for drivers of green vehicles in Belmont, Calif., according to a report last week in the San Francisco Chronicle.
One of the most common perks for buyers are rebates and sales tax reductions, which are already offered in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island.
In the United States, hybrid drivers are offered a tax credit of up to $3,150 by the federal government, depending on the fuel efficiency of the model. There are also discounted insurance rates.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Sweden is seen as a leader when it comes to promoting low-emission vehicles. They offer the tax breaks and free parking. And renewable fuel is widely available for drivers.
And then there’s Swedish-owned furniture giant Ikea, which in June designated two parking spots at each of its 11 Canadian stores for hybrid cars. Debbie McDowell, a spokeswoman at the Ottawa store, said there are plans to increase the number of spaces as the number of cars increases.
Along with the announcement on green licence plates, Ontario also said it will spend $15 million over four years in a pilot project to help businesses switch to greener transportation, such as hybrid technology. Provincial officials said a special effort will be made to help make medium-duty hybrid trucks more affordable.
As well, the province said it will build two new ethanol stations for government vehicles, which, once opened, could be made available to municipal fleets, a government statement said.
…this post forwarded by Windsor Humanist, Alexander Hodgins, after an August 9th 2007 article by Alana Toulin in The Ottawa Citizen