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Muffling Victoria’s heavy noise emitters could put gas-powered leaf blowers on shelf

First review of city’s noise bylaw since 2003 aims to address most complained about noise sources
Gas-powered leaf blower use could become a thing of the past in the city of Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria will look into banning the use of gas-powered leaf blowers by 2023 as it prepares to dampen decibels from the city’s most complained-about noise offenders.

Victoria councillors on Dec. 9 approved reopening noise bylaw discussions, as few changes in almost two decades have rendered it outdated and ineffective. Eliminating gas-powered leaf blower use in the city by 2023 will be considered in a staff review of the bylaw.

“There’s been advocacy on this from members of the public for a number of years. I think it aligns with the city’s climate action objectives,” said Coun. Ben Isitt, who brought the leaf blower amendment forward.

“I do continue to hear from a lot of residents saying ‘Why is this guy on my street using a bunch of fossil fuels, creating a massive noise disruption when there’s a number of other technologies.”

The noise bylaw currently limits leaf blower use to between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Leaf blower noise also can’t exceed 65 decibels, the bylaw states.

READ: Victoria councillors to get an earful on outdated, ineffective noise bylaw

The yard-clearing machines are classified in the bylaw as power equipment, which is one of the five most complained about noise sources in Victoria. The four others are hospitality venues, construction, garbage collection and miscellaneous sources such as traffic noise, back-up beepers and bird deterrents.

City staff will now analyze the bylaw and bring forward amendments aimed at muffling the sound sources. That review will also consider noise complaints about The Summit at Quadra Village care complex and take the city’s arts and culture master plan into account.

The existing noise bylaw is not effective or efficient at tackling both noise itself and the rising number of related complaints, a staff report said. Council seemed pleased to see the review come forward after so many years.

“I can’t believe this bylaw hasn’t been looked at since 2003,” said Mayor Lisa Helps. “It’s just bad governance to not review bylaws for almost 20 years, because then they’re out of date.”

Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe said her notes showed she’s been asking about a bylaw review since 2006 and has brought the issue up many times since.

“This is a happy day for me, to see that we’re finally going to address it.”

READ: Saanich resident questions bylaw governing heat pump noise

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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