Gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers face ban in Oakville


Published July 18, 2023 at 4:33 pm

Oakville Town Council is exploring a possible ban on the use of gas-powered mowers, leaf blowers and other tools in Oakville. PEXELS PHOTO

The days of using gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers and trimmers in Oakville may be coming to an end.

A motion carried at a recent Council meeting by Oakville Ward 2 Councillor Ray Chisholm will see Town staff explore a ban on small gas-powered tools.

The ban would include, but not be limited to, leaf blowers, lawn mowers, trimmers and edgers as a priority project in the update to the community energy strategy and options to reduce the need to use those forms of equipment.

The staff report will also explore the operation, success and progress of the Guelph local improvement charge program.

The ban on the use of powered tools would be for both the town staff and the public.

A Climate Emergency has been in effect in Oakville since 2019 and Town staff delivered a Climate Emergency Declaration Progress Report at its July 11 meeting.

“It’s taken a lot of organization and making the right infrastructure to make this start to happen,” said Chisholm. “I think some residents are looking for something that is doable and one of the main concerns of course is we have the (larger) greenhouse gases from cars and homes.

“But there is a high intensity of the two-stroke engines that are committing a lot of pollutants, so this is probably a start to make people aware, especially in Oakville, with the concerns of these power tools.”

The Town has been exploring different ways of addressing the climate emergency and one of the biggest projects that has begun is the electrifying of the town buses.

Staff outlined that 50 per cent of the emissions in Oakville are from transportation. While it’s the major portion of emissions, another 27 per cent comes from residential energy use and nearly 25 per cent from the institutional, commercial and industrial sector.

Chisholm said we are starting to see a change in the private sector in the direction to replace gas-powered equipment with electrical tools and so forth.

He believes that’s the way the town has to go and the good thing is that technology is rapidly improving to allow for this move. Still, he believes there will be a transition time for this to happen.

“Let’s face it, there’s a lot of companies and a lot of municipalities where their workforce still has those (gas-powered) leaf blowers and weed trimmers, so it’s going to take some time to happen,” he said. “It’s no different than how long it took us to transfer from wearing seat belts in cars, so it’s a behaviour change. It’s a concern change because of the environment. I really believe this is something we can do and move forward on.

“We’ll wait for the report to come back from staff on what their recommendations are. It’s a start, so that’s where we’re at right now.”

Along with electrifying of the buses, town staff has also made other progress on changes that will help cut down on emissions.

“Staff have to start looking at different alternative methods with our equipment and they’ve been very good,” Chisholm said. “You see propane powered vehicles and we’ll have fewer emissions when we go to electric buses. Eventually our vehicles will be electrified, so yeah it’s happening but on what I call a real grassroots level. This is something that we can do to break down the pollution rate in Oakville.”

Ward 1 Councillor Jonathan McNeice also suggested an amendment to the motion, which was accepted, that the town also investigate changes made on the natural landscaping side of things.

Something similar to what the city of Toronto has been looking at.

“I believe they’re also looking at approaches to landscaping that would cut down on the need for high-powered blowers,” he said. “So, could the leaves be used as mulch a little bit more, do we have to get every speck of dust off the sidewalk and stuff like that.

“If the need is lower, then it’s a lot easier to get quieter or lighter electric tools as a replacement.”

While a ban requires changes and costs, the benefits to the climate would be immense and well worth it.

“It’s something that’s very grassroots and something that’s attachable for our community to review and to look at, and to start a movement to change over to electrification of our power tools and power equipment,” Chisholm said.

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