Vancouver councillors Adriane Carr and Sarah Kirby-Yung presented their motions to Vancouver City council on June 15th. They aim for a ban against leaf blowers and other gas-powered gardening tools. 

What is being asked?

Carr and Kirby-Yung’s motions were presented separately but offered similar requests. Both proposals focussed on limiting sound pollution as well as air pollution, two of the major consequences that arise from using gas-powered tools. The landscaping tools in question include; gas-powered leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, edge trimmers, lawnmowers and chain saws. Councillors ask that these tools be completely phased out of the city by 2025. 

In and interview with Global Green News, Carr states:

“All around the equipment that is being used, the gas-powered equipment, is wrong for peoples health, wrong for environmental health and wrong for the climate”.

-Adriane Carr

The difference between the two councillors’ motions lies in the details. Kirby-Yung, an independent councillor addresses the four-stroke leaf blowers which tend to be less powerful than the two-stroke leaf blower. Carr, however, does not address these issues in her motions, stating that four-stroke engines are less commonly used. Additionally, Metro Vancouver ensures that these tools are licensed and a hefty fee is enforced on equipment that is most polluting. They also offer a three-year rebate for users who decide they would like to switch to electric alternatives.

Making Progress

There have been two motions passed from the city of Vancouver. The first was made by Dave Demers in 2019 to switch out all gas-powered two-stroke engines to electrical on all public park equipment. Since last December, thirty-three per cent of park board equipment has been switched to zero-emission alternatives. Estrellita Gonzalez, a Green school board trustee passed a similar motion in 2019 in which all school ground equipment to be electrical. There is currently a ban in West Vancouver, however, in the rest of the city, there remain only restrictions on the time of day that the landscaping tools can be used. Carr and Kirby-Young’s motions aim to address citywide use – which would include the private use of the gas-powered tools.

In the same interview with Global Green News, Carr explained: 

“It’s really important to realize that you can’t just ban something outright. You have to allow a phasing period to give industry time”

Adriane Carr

That is why Carr’s motion allows a four year period for landscapers and other professionals to switch to electrical tools.

Electric leaf blower (on left) Gas leaf blower (on right)

A feasible solution

When asked about the inconvenience of needing to charge electric tools, Carr explained that landscapers will have to use backup batteries. In the same interview with Global Green News, she states that using bigger batteries can be more expensive but they last longer.

“By the time you used your first one up the other one is recharged. You just have to keep switching your batteries out – its a way better option than filling your gas tank”

ADRIANE CARR

The second concern that she addressed in the same interview was the effectiveness of gas-powered tools. She explains that they are equally powerful, they cut well and that they are lighter, therefore, causing less stress on the users.

The benefits do not end there, Carr explains that users of electric alternatives do not breathe in fumes or harmful particulate matter. She told Global Green News that the pollutants are also bad for pollinator insects, “And of course there’s no emissions. There’s none of the toxic gas emissions in terms of NOx, reactive organic gasses and no GHG pollution, so really reducing the impact on climate”.

Hailey Roop

Hailey is an undergraduate student at McGill University studying Economics and Environment. She is interested in addressing environmental and social issues through community engagement efforts. In her free time, she likes to explore the city of Montreal on foot or by bike!

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