Coun. Tara Ney rakes leaves behind Oak Bay municipal hall. Ney’s motion asking staff to do a report on alternative options to the ongoing use of gas-powered leaf blowers in Oak Bay. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Coun. Tara Ney rakes leaves behind Oak Bay municipal hall. Ney’s motion asking staff to do a report on alternative options to the ongoing use of gas-powered leaf blowers in Oak Bay. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Oak Bay a step closer to banning gas leaf blowers

Council leans toward a study on alternatives

Let the leaves fall where they may.

If you insist on cleaning them up, consider a rake. Or, if you absolutely need a leaf blower, try to use electric. The breakdown of leaves are important for the earth, and the use of machines to clear them out is a double-edged sword for the planet.

This is the philosophy behind a proposed study that Oak Bay Coun. Tara Ney has drafted for Oak Bay staff to ban leaf blowers. Council approved the initial motion at the Oct. 19 committee of the whole, which referred it to an upcoming council meeting.

“This directive is trying to signal that leaf blowers are more than just a public nuisance, they do both public and planetary harm, we’re trying to encourage people to consider alternatives,” Ney said.

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

The situation is exacerbated by the coronavirus and the shift to more residents working from home, Ney added.

The motion is inspired by the pushback from local citizens to the ongoing noise created specifically by gas-powered leaf blowers. The crux of the motion is for staff to prepare a report on how Oak Bay can phase out the use of gas-powered leaf blowers by municipal staff and for residential use, meaning the landscaping industry would be forced to rake or possibly use electric leaf blowers.

However, Ney is considering adding a ban on all gas-powered lawn equipment, which could change how council sees the motion, she said. Regardless, there is a regional movement growing to ban the use of leaf blowers particularly.

One of the biggest complaints about gas-powered leaf blowers is the irritating whine sound, a consistent complaint by residents to Oak Bay. Vancouver outright banned leaf blowers (of any type) on Sundays and in the West End neighbourhood, and also restricted their use to daytime hours. Coastal cities Portland, Ore., and Santa Monica, Calif., also have bans in place.

In Saanich, former councillor candidate Teale Phelps Bondaroff plans to bring his anti-leaf blower petition back to council that he first presented last year.

It’s not a new topic. Oak Bay’s Environmental Advisory Committee brought concerns to council in 2014.

READ ALSO: Resident pushes for electric in Saanich’s leaf-blower replacement plan

READ MORE: Saanichite calling for gas-powered leaf blower ban finds support

Ney referenced studies that show the noise from an electric leaf blower is reduced 40 to 80 per cent compared to a gas-powered, let alone the reduction in emissions. Ultimately, though, the push is to convince people that if they insist on manicuring the lawn and garden by removing leaves they should prioritize rakes.

Blowers not only remove leaves that would mulch and break down into the soil but also blow away the top layer of soil and insects that are crucial, Ney said.

“Leaf blowers are ripping up the bio derm. We know the health effects of the GHGs, and the noise, but I also say to people if you care about your health, your neighbour’s health, and if you care about the steep decline of biodiversity that’s happened on the earth in our lifetime, then we need to rethink how we care for our gardens.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, is the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. (Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos)
Oak Bay local Lachlan Kratz (red, middle) has signed with pro rugby team NOLO Gold in Louisiana. (Contributed photo)
Oak Bay local signs with pro rugby team

Lachlan Kratz at 21 is now NOLO Gold’s youngest member

A micro brewery is being eyed for Jordan River. However, the site where the brewery is proposed still needs to go through the rezoning process. (Black Press Media file)
Micro brewery proposed for Jordan River

Jordan River Brewing Company envisions to build wholesale, sit-in brewery along Highway 14

Traffic waits at the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue. A study found failing levels of service at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sidney’s Beacon Avenue for multiple movements during morning peak traffic and for all left-moving traffic during afternoon peak traffic. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Province supports potential interim improvements to Sidney intersection

Province says interchange is the long-term plan for intersection of Beacon Avenue and Highway 17

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read