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Majority supports restricting use of cars to cut smog

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  • Ronald Dawson
    From http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/GIS.Servlets.HTMLTemplate?tf=tgam/common /FullStory.html&cf=tgam/common/FullStory.cfg&configFileLoc=tgam/config&vg=Bi
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 30, 2001
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      he_key=frontpage¤t_row=4&start_row=4&num_rows=1 Dawson

      Majority supports restricting use of cars to cut smog

      New taxes for transit unpopular, poll finds


      Monday, July 30, 2001 – Page A1

      OTTAWA -- A majority of Canadians is so fed up with the growing urban-smog
      problem that they're willing to see car use restricted on poor-air-quality
      days, a new poll suggests.

      The poll, conducted by Ipsos-Reid for The Globe and Mail and CTV, suggests
      that 58 per cent of Canadians supported the idea of limiting car use on
      smoggy days. Much of Eastern Canada is currently in the grip of one of the
      worst summers for smog on record.

      However, to a separate question, just 37 per cent said they were willing to
      pay more taxes in order to improve public transportation. Opposition was
      heavy, with 61 per cent saying they opposed the idea, including 49 per cent
      who said they were "strongly opposed" to any additional taxes.

      Just 17 per cent said they "strongly supported" paying more for public

      "Isn't that terrible?" said Angela Rickman, deputy director of the Sierra
      Club of Canada. "I'm wondering how they're planning on getting around if
      they don't use cars and they don't want to pay for public transit."

      Most environmentalists argue that upgrading and expanding
      public-transportation systems would be the fastest way to reduce the number
      of "smog days" Canada's urban centres have been experiencing.

      Ms. Rickman said the poll showed many Canadians still don't believe they
      have to reduce their dependency on cars.

      Ipsos-Reid said the poll of 1,002 Canadians can be considered accurate
      within 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

      Gerry Scott of the Vancouver-based David Suzuki Foundation said that just
      because Canadians don't to want to pay more taxes, it doesn't mean they
      wouldn't like to see more of the taxes they already pay used to upgrade
      transportation systems.

      The poll didn't ask whether respondents wanted to see some of their tax
      money redirected into public transit from other programs.

      "We've got a $15-billion surplus in Ottawa, and no [new] money for public
      transit," Mr. Scott said.
      "We can afford this. All we need is some leadership. We need some better
      allocation of resources to bring them into line with people's priorities."

      Others hoped that the suggestion that most Canadians are willing to accept
      restrictions on car use might persuade governments here to impose car-free
      days, which have been implemented successfully in several European cities.

      Bea Olivastri of Friends of the Earth said such days not only give the
      atmosphere a short break but they also make people realize that cars aren't
      as essential as they may have believed.

      Studies have found that poor air quality, particularly the soupy mix of
      pollutants known as smog, leads to approximately 1,000 premature deaths a
      year in Toronto alone, and thousands of visits to hospital.

      The problems this year, however, extend well beyond that city's limits.
      Ontario has recorded 17 days of smog advisories this season, compared with
      five to 10 normally over the entire May-to-September smog period.

      While Ontario has worse smog problems than any other part of the country,
      support for car restrictions is actually lowest in the province, with just
      49 per cent of respondents backing the idea.

      Quebeckers were the most willing to use their cars less on smoggy days, with
      74 per cent support for the idea, followed by Atlantic Canada at 63 per
      cent. Both those regions are also finding it more difficult to breathe this

      Montreal has already exceeded its normal average for the entire summer, with
      seven smog warnings since May 1.

      Atlantic Canada has had five smog advisories so far this year, as opposed to
      an average of three or four for the whole season.

      While support for the idea of restricting car use fluctuated from region to
      region, opposition to paying more taxes in order to improve public transit
      was strong everywhere. British Columbians polled were the most willing to
      pay an extra tax, but even in that province fewer than half, 41 per cent,
      supported the idea.

      Those living in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where there are few urban centres
      and little public transit outside the big cities, were the least interested
      it paying the extra taxes, with just 32 per cent backing the idea.
      New taxes for transit unpopular, poll finds
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