Oak Bay councilors voted unanimously to ban all gasoline-powered residential lawn equipment, including leaf blowers, for a three-year period.
Concerns about noise and pollutants emitted by gas-powered leaf blowers were brought to council through a petition signed by more than 600 people in the community.
The council had already chosen to phase out gas-powered gardening equipment from the district’s fleet by 2025 and voted to extend that decision to all residential properties at a meeting on Tuesday evening.
Many residents spoke out in favor of Oak Bay enacting the ban, saying environmental noise was an underappreciated issue that needs to be addressed.
“Spring, summer, whatever the season. All day, at least every day, and sometimes several times a day…[leaf blowers] penetrate through our walls and they enter our brains,” said Francis Landy, an Oak Bay resident who started the petition, ahead of the vote.
Catch up on last night #OakBay Council meeting. It was unanimous, with one adjustment. All gas-powered residential lawn equipment will be banned in Oak Bay starting in 2026, not 2023. Will other municipalities follow? @MurdochOakBay thinks. pic.twitter.com/am3TNSlVJp
—Joe Perkins (@JoePerkinsCHEK) May 25, 2022
Studies suggest that the noise created by gas-powered leaf blowers exceeds World Health Organization standards.
“According to manufacturers’ reports, the sound pressure levels of these machines exceed 95 A-weighted decibels (dB[A]) at the operator’s ear and typically 65 to 80 dB(A) at 50 feet,” researchers Erica Walker and Jamie L Bank wrote in their study Sound Characteristics of Lawn and Garden Equipment: A Study community pilot in 2017.
“Comparing these levels to daytime noise standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO) – these levels are more than 15 dB(A) higher than the recommended 55 dB(A).”
Although the motion takes effect in 2023, the three-year phase-out means gas-powered leaf blowers won’t be completely banned until 2026.
The council also discussed subsidizing the transition of residents from gas-powered to electric gardening equipment, a possibility that will be explored further as the ban is implemented.
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