Retire Your Ride running out of time

Want cash for that rusting heap in the driveway? Maybe you want a new bike?

You have until March 31 to capitalize on Canada’s Retire Your Ride Program. The catch is, you have to commit your old car or truck to the graveyard, and for doing so you’re entitled to “rewards,” including a discount on that new bike (

According to Canada’s Retire Your Ride program, vehicles built prior to 1995 emit 19 times more pollutants than those built after 2004.

That’s saying something for just how far engineers have tweaked and tuned the modern gasoline powered internal combustion engine.

In fact, a recent piece of news from the Retire Your Ride program is showing older cars and trucks might be more of a polluting problem than first thought.

BC AirCare is the provincial organization that tests smog emissions for that province. They looked at 133 vehicles built prior to 1995 — these were all cars and trucks surrendered through the Retire Your Ride campaign.

When compared to newer vehicles, BC AirCare said these old beasts produced on average 39 times more hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxides.

Retire Your Ride is a three-year program set up to remove older cars from the streets. The initiative ends next year on March 31 — just six months away.

Climate Change Central, an Alberta-based not for profit group, is the provincial agent for Retire Your Ride.

“We want to ensure people are aware that there is an end date to the program,” said Pamela Goertzen of Climate Change Central during a telephone interview. She commented on the recent B.C. statistics.

“New emissions testing in B.C. shows 39 times more smog forming emissions come from 1995 and older cars. (This number) proves these vehicles really do have an effect on the environment, and that’s why we’ve been trying to get them off the road. (Ideally, we’d like to) get people to use a more sustainable form of transportation, such as transit or a bicycle.”

And, if someone is choosing a new vehicle, Goertzen hopes it is a fuel-efficient model, and not a large SUV or truck.

According to Goertzen, Retire Your Ride is a $92 million program that is an initiative of the Government of Canada and Summerhill Impact. So far, close to 100,000 vehicles have been permanently retired from Canadian roads.

In Alberta, some 7,627 cars and trucks have been removed through 21 automotive recyclers. All automotive recycling companies must meet the Retire Your Ride code of practice, and need to follow a set of standards to ensure all fluids are removed and the car disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.

Anyone wanting to get rid of an old beater can do so, but to qualify for the Retire Your Ride program the vehicle has to be running and driving.

As well, it needs to have been insured and registered in the owner’s name for at least six consecutive months, and its gross vehicle weight rating must be less than 3,865 kg.

In return for scrapping a polluting vehicle, participants in Alberta are entitled to receive one of five “rewards.”

These include $300 cash, up to a $490 discount off a new bicycle, up to $450 off an electric bicycle or nine months of transit passes for Calgary Transit.

Several automakers, including Chrysler, Hyundai, Ford and GM, are also partnered with Retire Your Ride. Depending on the manufacturer and chosen vehicle, the savings could be as much as $3,000.

Fans of vintage and collector vehicles worry about important cars and their parts being scrapped. Goertzen said not to worry.

She’s been in touch with some collector clubs, and they’ve let her know particular year and model vehicles they’d like to save from the crusher.

“We keep an eye open for them, and we try to work to ensure some of the classic models aren’t being destroyed,” Goertzen said.

Within Alberta Goertzen said the top three vehicles surrendered to Retire Your Ride are Ford Tempo, Mercury Topaz and Toyota Tercel cars from 1991. We’re not talking about 1956 Chevy Bel Airs or 1969 Plymouth Roadrunners.

Photograph by: Justin Sullivan/AFP/Getty Images, AFP/Getty Images