Interest swirls in Oak Bay to ban gas-powered leaf blowers

‘Two-stroke engines are obosolete technology,’ says Coun. Tara Ney

An Oak Bay councillor is putting forward a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers as a topic for the newly created climate change working group to consider for their March 2020 report. (Cbaile19/Wikimedia Commons)

Count Oak Bay Coun. Tara Ney as the latest politician in the region interested in banning gas-powered leaf blowers.

The issue will come before council on Monday though it is not to propose a cut-and-dry ban as of yet.

What Ney is proposing is to have Oak Bay’s newly created climate action working group consider a ban for their report. Chaired by Coun. Andrew Appleton, the climate action working group was only formed this month but is in a hurry to compile a series of recommendations by March, ahead of the updated strategic plan.

Specifically, it’s the obsolete two-stroke engines that need to go, Ney said.

“People value Oak Bay as a clean and quiet community. If we can phase out the two-stroke, I hope we can then move to reducing leaf blowers. This is autumn and when I was a kid you heard the whoosh and scrape of rakes. Now you hear a whir.”

Leaf blowers have been cited in Oak Bay’s noise bylaw since 2003, which restricts the use of machine-powered leaf blowers to between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday or holidays. It’s not the first time Ney has brought a leaf blower ban to council. Last time she did, however, it was buried and there just wasn’t a conversation happening yet, Ney said.

Now, in the face of a climate crisis, a less complicated motion like this is low hanging fruit, Ney said, adding they’re being banned in other municipalities in Canada and the U.S.

“A lot of things we need to do in the climate crisis are so complicated, and this just is not,” Ney said. “I’ve been approached by people who keep asking ‘when are you going to put the leaf blower motion back on the table.’ There is community concern to get these gas-powered leaf blowers out of our community.”

Ney hopes her fellow council members will refer the item to the new climate action task force to include on their long list of initiatives.

“I’m quite happy to leave it to the good work of that task force, but let them know there is a community impetus concerned about the pollutants of an obsolete technology,” Ney said.

When Ney started researching she saw the work Teale Phelps Bondaroff is doing in Saanich and reached out to him.

Phelps Bondaroff presented a petition to ban leaf blowers to Saanich council in August.

A study by the California Air Resources Board estimates one hour of operating a leaf blower creates emissions that rival driving a 2016 Toyota Camry for approximately 1,100 miles.

Electric leaf blowers can perform at a similar level while creating nearly zero emissions and far less noise pollution, he explained.

“It’s time for us to reconsider the old way of doing things, and take serious action to protect the health of our community, and the planet more generally,” Ney said.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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