Vancouver Moves Toward Banning Gas- Powered Leaf Blowers

After a meeting on July 12, 2001, the decision was made by Vancouver City Council to prohibit the use of gas-powered leaf blowers within 50 metres of residential premises, except during the period October through January, and further to ban the use of these machines altogether in Vancouver effective February 2, 2004.

Nine speakers, including our Society's Vice-President Roy Silverson and members Dr. Jeremy Tatum and Johannes Halbertsma presented Council with compelling arguments against these machines. The only speaker in favour was the representative from the BC Landscape Nursery Association, Allan O'Connor. Mr. Silverson made an excellent presentation in support of the compromise option of allowing such machines only during the fall cleanup period. While we would have wished for an outright immediate ban, pragmatically the option supported was much more likely to be acceptable to Council, and was a definite improvement over the status quo. Dr. Tatum eloquently elucidated the flaws in the proposal based on decibel readings, and illustrated how decibel based bylaws in general tend to defeat their purpose, in that they so often provide noisemakers with the upper hand. Dr. Pat McGeer provided a live demonstration in the chamber of a gas-powered leaf blower reaching some 102 dB at 5 feet, and 90 dB well across the room.

The effect of these machines on air quality was also addressed. The Lung Association equates the air pollution coming from one leaf blower to that from seventeen cars. They transfer dust, animal excrement, cigarette butts, fungal spores, bacteria and viruses into the air and to neighbouring properties, and aggravate conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.

Councillors Tim Louis, Dr. Fred Bass, and Gordon Price appeared largely responsible for the favourable outcome of the meeting.

Staff has been instructed to report back to Council on the effects of similar equipment with two-stroke engines such as weed eaters and lawnmowers.

Alan Law was sentenced in Cambridge, Ohio, to listen to four hours of polka king Frankie Yankovic's greatest hits for driving through the city with his windows rolled down and his truck's stereo blaring. "Most of the time I try to impart the golden rule to people: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. You may enjoy listening to your music, but many people do not want to hear your music," Judge John Nicholson said.

-Vancouver Province, September 2, 2001

More Noise Rage

An apparent dispute over noise resulted in Vancouver's fifth homicide of the year. Detective Scott Driemel said that police were called to an apartment in the 500-block East Hastings at 11 p.m. May 31, 2001 to investigate a serious stabbing.

A 61-year-old Vancouver man was stabbed with a kitchen knife after apparently confronting another man in a neighbouring apartment over noise, Driemel said. He said the victim got into a fight with the other man and died about three hours later in hospital. He said the two men didn't know each other before the dispute. A 51-year-old man is in custody facing charges.

-Vancouver Sun, June 2, 2001

Honourable mention goes to The Ottawa Citizen for its well-researched five day series on noise issues, published from July 21 to 25, 2001, beginning with a quote from Nobel Prize-winning German bacteriologist Robert Koch, who predicted, "The day will come when man will have to fight noise as inexorably as cholera and the plague." It is most encouraging to see this comprehensive coverage of a number of issues including noise addiction, hearing loss, soundscape nature preserves, and profiles of Ottawa noise complaints by region and time of day in the mainstream press.

Right to Quiet Society Newsletter, Fall, 2001

< Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Next >

Right to Quiet Home Page