Calgary petition pushes for a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers

An online petition calling on the City of Calgary to ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers has garnered more than 1,500 signatures.

The petition from Project Calgary asks city council members to act on the declaration of a climate emergency by banning the leaf blowers, which it states are bad for the environment,

The petition says the noise created by gas-powered leaf blowers also impacts the quality of life and mental health of residents in Calgary.

“It’s 100 decibels of noise at four in the morning because somebody hired a company to blow snowflakes off their sidewalk next door to you and I think anyone I think would understand how ridiculous that is,” says Peter Oliver with Project Calgary.

Some cities in the US have issued a similar ban, and California is exploring banning the sale of gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers by 2024 in a move to curb carbon emissions.

The California Air Resource Board had compared the pollution created by using a gas-powered leaf blower for an hour to driving 1,770 kilometres.

Some Canadian cities are considering or moving forward with similar bans including Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa, something petition organizers say should be easy for Calgary council to get behind.

“It really felt like this was the time to work with our city council to take meaningful action, climate action, and gas leaf blowers are a real simple low hanging fruit compared to a lot of the climate challenges we face,” says Oliver.

The petition’s phased out proposal is receiving mixed reviews from city councilors, although many are open to the discussing a possible ban and environmental impacts.

“I’ve had people in my own neighborhood, friends of mine reach out about this,” says ward 12 councilor Evan Spencer. “I think it’s a conversation we need to look into.”

Ward 9 councilor Gina-Carlo Carra agrees but says there is still a lot to be learned about what role city council can play and how affordable other options are for administration and residents.

“It really is annoying to people and when you consider, you know, the environmental impacts it’s pretty significant so, kudos to the residents who are raising this and doing so effectively using social media,” he says.

Ward 13 councilor Dan McLean says he hasn’t received complaints about leaf blowers from residents and says there are more pressing issues for council to concentrate on.

“What happens is you ban the leaf blower and then what’s next, ban the lawnmower?” McLean said. “We have bigger fish to fry than the gas-powered leaf blower at this point – that’s all I have to say.”

Currently in Calgary a leaf-blower or snow-blower can be used any time day or night during a 48 hour window for snow removal otherwise residents do have to abide with noise bylaws.

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