Red Tape Pollution

Let’s face it – Canada is not sustainable. The way we’re treating our country is something we just cannot keep doing if we want our children to live decent lives. We’re stripping forests, messing with water supplies, overfishing seas, and generally polluting like there’s no tomorrow. But perhaps worst of all, we have laws that are so outdated they actually favour pollution!

Here we are, a country pretending to be clean, green, and natural, while in reality our own governments are encouraging pollution. There are examples of such laws and lack of laws that are easy to spot: raw log exports, poor fishing regulations, gas guzzling vehicles everywhere. Other than political talk, our leaders have shown very little effort in regard to our environment.

For most of these issues we can cut the politicians some slack, because possibly there are some economic reasons why this is all happening, even though many of those reasons are short-sighted and outdated.

In the case of the electric car however, our government isn’t just NOT doing something – they are actively getting in the way! Right now, Canada is building electric cars and our laws are preventing Canadians from legally buying them and using them!

For example, the ZENN Motor Company is building electric cars in Quebec and selling them in the U.S. These cars have already been approved in the U.S. so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be approved in Canada. All we need to do is change the laws, and we will immediately have access to electric vehicles.

The issue is that these cars are limited speed, limited range vehicles, and our laws don’t currently know how to deal with these ‘neighbourhood electric vehicles.’ A small change would have to be made to allow such vehicles on city streets. Transport Canada has only just recently approved this type of vehicle, but most provinces still don’t allow them. I do have to give bonus points to British Columbia for being on the ball – our province had these approvals in place even before the national government did!

Why would anyone want a car that doesn’t go over 60 km/hr? For starters, you can get a brand new car for less than $10,000. In terms of fuel consumption, the electric motor gets the energy equivalent of 245 miles per gallon, which eliminates enormous amounts of pollution while at the same time saving you money from the minute you start driving it. You also never have to worry about oil changes, expensive tune-ups, and many more of those gasoline car annoyances, including my nemesis: the ‘Check Engine’ light.

This sort of vehicle would obviously make a great affordable second vehicle for nearly all multi-car families, especially in the bigger centers such as Toronto and Vancouver. For the average commuter, replacing a compact car with a ZENN will save around $3,000 per year just in fuel costs alone, or $6,000 for those who commute with an SUV or truck.

I’m one of the lucky ones – my commute consists of walking across the hallway. Even so, I would still love to have an electric vehicle in my garage, saving me money while saving my environment.

If our leaders were at all serious about the Kyoto promises they made, simply approving such cars would immediately take us leaps and bounds closer to our environmental targets. So what are they waiting for?