Switch from gas-powered equipment to electric too costly for Oakville

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Published May 27, 2024 at 5:08 pm

Ontario, Oakville, gas-powered, equipment, lawnmowers, climate, health, air quality
The Town of Oakville has opted for an awareness campaign instead of a possible ban on the use of gas-powered mowers, leaf blowers and other tools.

It appears gas-powered lawnmowers and leaf blowers aren’t going away anytime soon in Oakville.

After reviewing and considering information related to climate, air quality, health, and noise, the Town of Oakville says there is currently an “insufficient basis” to ban gas-powered equipment and make the move to electric for several reasons, among them excessive costs and the addition of staff that would be required.

Town Council had been considering a report looking into a phased-out approach to reduce the use of gas-powered equipment, including, but not limited to leaf blowers, trimmers, pole saws and lawnmowers.

After meeting with interested parties, including Resident Associations and holding an open house and public survey, town staff has instead launched an awareness campaign to keep electric “top of mind” for both contractors and residents.

“The current campaign will run annually for six months with key messages promoted at town facilities, on the town’s website and social media,” said the report. “Residents will receive campaign messaging with their tax bill that will reach 60,000 homes.”

Replacing the current outdoor maintenance equipment, valued at $1 million, from gas-powered to electrical would cost the Parks and Open Space department $2 million. Limitations related to battery-charge life and changing infrastructure would also have an impact on maintaining service levels.

There could also be issues with finding enough electrical equipment for commercial use, while enforcing the ban could prove challenging and would require additional staff and costs.

As well, getting rid of all of the gas-powered equipment to landfill could have its own negative environmental impact since only a portion of it is recyclable.

“Staff will monitor progress of a funding proposal put forward by the Clean Air Partnership (CAC) to conduct a holistic review of two-stroke engine equipment for a deeper understanding of its impact on the local environment and human health,” said the town.

“The study will include a jurisdictional scan, technical assessment, policies and enforcement, incentive programs and engagement with major retailers and service providers.

Oakville has expressed interest in being one of eight municipalities required to take part in the study which requires a contribution of $10,000.

The study is expected to conclude in March 2025.

Town Council first considered the feasibility of banning small gas-powered equipment back in early December of 2023 after it received concerns from residents over the negative impacts they have related to climate, air quality, health, and noise, and that such equipment is unnecessary due to the availability of alternatives.

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