Vancouver Takes Step Toward Banning Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers by 2024

By Cheryl Chan, Vancouver Sun
Jan 27, 2022
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Vancouver is a step closer toward banning outdoor gas-powered leaf blowers.

On Wednesday, Vancouver city council unanimously passed a motion to get the city to phase out gas-powered landscape maintenance equipment, which includes lawn mowers, chainsaws and hedge trimmers, for personal and commercial use by 2024.

 A parks board worker uses a leaf blower in Stanley Park. PHOTO BY IAN SMITH /Vancouver Sun

Out of these, leaf blowers are the most egregious offenders in terms of environmental impact and degrading people’s quality of life, said Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung, who proposed the motion.

“We’re seeing more people aware of it, especially during the pandemic locked down and working from home.”

Kirby-Yung notes that gas-powered leaf blowers have been banned in the West End for two decades, a recognition of the downtown neighbourhood’s high level of density compared with the rest of the city. But with many parts of the city now denser and more residential, a citywide ban makes sense, she said.

Aside from the noise and annoyance factor, gas-powered leaf blowers carry a heavy environmental toll and have negative health impacts due to exposure to toxic fumes and unsafe noise levels at close range.

According to the California Air Resources Board, operating a commercial leaf blower for an hour emits as much pollution as driving a car for 1,700 kilometres.

Last October, California passed a bill banning the sale of gas-powered landscape equipment, which includes lawn mowers, chainsaws, leaf blowers, pressure washers and generators, by Jan. 1, 2024.

Kirby-Yung said emissions-free replacements are available and have been well-received by some strata associations and companies. But she acknowledges there is a cost associated with making the switch, which is why the motion allows two years for strata and firms to transition to zero-emission equipment and for cost of the technology to go down.

The Vancouver park board has already been switching its gas-powered landscaping equipment to low- or zero-emission alternatives as the equipment reaches its end-of-life, said the motion. That transition is expected to be complete in four years.

The motion also asks council to consult with stakeholders including representative strata councils and the B.C. Landscape and Nursery Association.