Leaf blower ban blown with the wind

The City Clerk's Department informed us that on May 18, 2004, Vancouver City Council approved the following:

Therefore be it resolved that, Vancouver Council amend the Noise Control Bylaw to prohibit the use of leaf blowers in the Burrard to Stanley Park area (excluding Stanley Park), and English Bay to Coal Harbour. And that the Director of Legal Services bring forward the appropriate amending Bylaw by mid July, 2004.

An article in The Vancouver Courier on May 16 stated that Councillor Tim Stevenson is calling for a complete ban of leaf blowers in the West End, the densest residential area in Vancouver. It also mentioned a B.C. Landscape & Nursery Association representative as saying that if a ban was implemented, the biggest impact would be an increase in the cost of lawn maintenance, since cleaning a yard full of leaves would take longer - and cost more - with a rake. In a column on May 26, headlined "Two-stroke terrorists must be banished", Allen Garr wrote amongst other things, that leaf blowers are just part of the terrorist arsenal that feeds our addiction for lawn order. If you want a good substitute for a leaf blower, try a rake and a stiff straw broom.

Like before, when City Council decided to ban leaf blowers city-wide, people with a vested interest in continuing the use of these polluting machines lobbied Council again to refrain from a ban and focus on educating the owners and users instead. A meeting of Council's Standing Committee on City Services and Budgets re. "leaf blower regulation - prohibition in the West End" was scheduled for July 22. On the agenda was to establish the exact boundaries of the West End, and if the Parks Board's budget should be increased to reflect their higher costs allegedly resulting from a ban.

Five delegations, including the Landscape & Nursery Association, spoke against the ban, primarily lamenting the increase in cost. The Right to Quiet Society's representative, Roy Silverson, was the only delegation to speak in favour of a ban, all of which would not have been necessary, had Council adhered to the meeting agenda. With regards to the mighty fear of cost he told Council that a 1996 survey by the industry itself compared costs of mechanised versus manual means of lawn care. The industry found the extra cost for a "medium size yard" to be $ 2.91, and a "small size yard" to be $ 1.67! Finally, councillors voted to postpone a decision until September to allow staff to consult with the industry on a strategy to address issues related to leaf blowers and report back to Council.

In a letter from the clerk's office we were notified that re. "report back on leaf blower regulation - prohibition in the West End", Vancouver City Council's Standing Committee on Planning and Environment will consider this item at its meeting on Sept. 30, 2004, at 2 p.m., in Council Chamber. In a memorandum of Sept. 17 from the Director of Health Protection of Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, Mr. Domenic Losito recommended deferring a prohibition on the use of leaf blowers in the West End until Sept. 2005 to give the industry's Blower Task Force more time to prove that [they] will address the concerns of Council and residents. We have very little hope that a majority of councillors will be steadfast and vote for a ban now.

For more information on this matter you may contact Mr. Losito, Director of Health Protection, at 604-714-5677. To e-mail the mayor and councillors write to mayorandcouncil@city.vancouver.bc.ca.

Alternative, quiet lawn care is done by several businesses:
Silent Gardener operates in Vancouver and Burnaby Sheldon & Nancy Ridout, 604 324 3628, sridout@telus.net
Organic Matters Landscaping operates from Vancouver East Side to New Westminster Veith Hillebrand, 604 721 4258, veithil@aol.com
Handcrafted Garden Work operates on the North Shore and in Vancouver Ray Lachance, 604 618 4012, handcrafted@shaw.ca

One of our supporters suggested to restrict the size of lawn for which to use power equipment. He also said that it is considered to be uncivilised if the grass is too tall (high), but not if the noise generated by grooming the lawn is sickening.

Mowing problem
Maybe the grass is greener on the other side of the 49th parallel. The average U.S. household spent $ 613 US last year on professional lawn and landscape maintenance, according to a recent survey. - The Vancouver Sun, Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Right to Quiet Society Newsletter, Fall 2004
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