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Motion to ban gas-powered leaf blowers going before Oak Bay council

Coun. Tara Ney is set to introduce a motion on Tuesday to phase out gas-powered leaf blowers and other garden equipment on all Oak Bay residential properties by October 2023.
Francis Landy launched a petition calling for gas leaf blowers to be banned in Oak Bay. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Oak Bay is considering a full ban on gas-powered leaf blowers and other other garden equipment within its boundaries.

Coun. Tara Ney, who said she has been working on the issue for a decade, is set to introduce a motion on Tuesday to phase out such equipment on all residential properties by October 2023.

“This has been a long time coming,” she said.

Last year, council voted to phase out the use of gas-powered gardening equipment by municipal staff by 2025, citing concerns about pollution and noise. The decision did not include landscaping companies or residential use.

Ney said “the time is right and the place is right” for more action to be taken.

“We’ve got so many gardens here and people working out of the home, and we have a lot of oak trees,” she said. “And I think this is a community that recognizes that there are alternatives.”

The municipality has more than 10,000 boulevard trees.

In her motion, Ney says the leaf blowers have been “an increasing concern” in recent years in the context of things like climate change.

Vancouver is moving toward a ban, and Ney said neighbouring municipalities like Victoria and Saanich have also had discussions.

Oak Bay resident Francis Landy launched a petition on December to phase out gas-powered leaf blowers that he said is approaching 700 signatures and has generated plenty of opinions.

“It does demonstrate that there is a lot of strong feeling in the community,” he said. Added comments make it clear that many people are annoyed with the current situation, he added.

He said all equipment will be part of the motion to council.

“It doesn’t make sense to just have leaf blowers,” Landy said. “So we’ll include lawn mowers and hedge cutters and leaf cutters and all that.”

He said a phasing out of the equipment seems like a logical step, and would put Oak Bay in line with places like Washington, D.C., and California.

“You can’t expect people to change over in one day.”

Landy said he uses a simple rake to gather leaves and also hires a gardening company that uses only electric power.

He is among eight people from the public scheduled to speak to the issue at Tuesday’s meeting.