About half the vehicles registered in the Lower Mainland are old enough to require AirCare testing.

AirCare vehicle testing extended one year

Provincial decision still awaited on long-term renewal of emission control program

AirCare vehicle emission tests will continue for at least one more year in the Lower Mainland.

The provincial government still hasn’t made a final decision on whether to continue the program for several more years, so TransLink extended the contract with its provider until the end of 2012.

“In the absence of any direction from them all we could do is extend it for another year,” AirCare general manager David Gourley said.

A multi-agency review committee last year recommended renewing AirCare for at least another five years, citing the program’s continuing pollution-control benefits.

Those benefits aren’t as big as in the past, because new cars have become steadily cleaner, but the review warned scrapping the program would risk air quality.

Metro Vancouver’s board last year called for an extension of AirCare to at least 2020, and that it expand to target emissions from heavy diesel trucks.

The Fraser Valley Regional District also supported a renewal, in a close 11-10 vote.

The $20-milllion annual cost of running AirCare test centres is entirely covered through fees on motorists. Only half the region’s vehicles get tested every two years because newer ones are exempt.