Last July, U.S. President Barack Obama launched a Cash for Clunkers program designed to get old, polluting vehicle off American roads.
Response was so overwhelming, the operation was shut down less than two months later when it simply ran out of money.
What is less well-known is that Canada already had a similar plan in place. Launched in February 2009, Retire Your Ride has already exceeded its goal of 50,000 cars, nationally. It still has plenty of resources, and will continue until the end of next March.
“This is Canada’s national vehicle scrappage program,” national director Carla Kearns says. “It’s about working with Canadians to encourage them to responsibly retire their older vehicles.”
If your car is from the 1995 model year or older, you can apply to enter the program. If accepted, your car will be responsibly recycled, and you can receive a $300 payment, or choose from a series of environmentally friendly incentives.
“Cash works for a lot of people, but we have a lot of other incentives across the country that actually have a higher value than the cash alone,” Kearns explains. “Many municipalities offer transit passes for six months, a year or even 15 months. Or, it could be something like a membership in a car-sharing program. We also have a number of automobile partners who can offer a rebate off the purchase of a new car.”
The program is also available in French, under the wonderful name Adieu Bazou.
“One of the things we’re looking to do is reduce smog in the air.” Kearns notes, “so we want to make sure that these cars are actually running. We don’t want to be taking cars off the road that are up on blocks in somebody’s yard. To be eligible for the program, your car has to be insured for the past six months, and registered in your name.”
Kearns adds that vehicles manufactured in or after 1996 do not qualify.
“There was a huge leap of improvement in vehicle emission standards between 1995 and ’96. Results differ by manufacturer, but 1995 and earlier, they’re pretty much all on the bad end of that range.”
Retire Your Ride is funded by the federal government, and overseen nationally by Summerhill Impact.
They run a range pollution-reducing programs, including Mow Down Pollution, which offers incentives to replace gas-powered lawn mowers.