Local resident Teale Phelps Bondaroff is working to get leaf blowers banned in Saanich. (Photo courtesy Teale Phelps Bondaroff)

Saanich resident calls for gas leaf blower ban

Council asked to acknowledge the mental and physical health effects of noise pollution

Saanich resident Teale Phelps Bondaroff introduced a petition for a leaf blower ban in Saanich to council during the council meeting Monday.

He said there are several issues with gas-powered leaf blowers including the environmental damage from emissions, effects of the noise pollution on people’s physical and mental health and respiratory risks from the dust particles that get blown around.

Phelps Bondaroff’s plan is to use the petition to garner support for the cause and then formally present the petition to council along with three asks: ban gas-powered leaf blowers, create a program to recycle the gas-powered leaf blowers in the District and regulate the use of electric leaf blowers so that the noise created is in compliance with the noise pollution bylaws in the District.

The District bylaws on continuous noise do already technically prohibit the leaf blowers but it’s not enforced, said Phelps Bondaroff. The bylaw limits what loud machines are allowed, when they can be used and who can use them. It also states that continuous sound is only permitted for three minutes at a time.

Noise pollution has been one of Phelps Bondaroff’s research topics for many years. People’s well-being is affected by noise pollution and this is often overlooked, he explained. Leaf blowers are particularly bad for noise pollution because of the low frequency sound that can travel through walls. The constant revving sound is also problematic because is can be agitating.

Phelps Bondaroff also pointed out that what makes leaf blower noise been more annoying is the fact that people can’t control it themselves or get away from the sound.

Gas-powered leaf blowers also use a two-stroke engine which he said is ineffective. Phelps Bondaroff referenced a study by the California Air Resources Board which estimated that one hour of operating a leaf blower creates emissions that rivals driving a 2016 Toyota Camry for approximately 1,100 miles. Electric leaf blowers create significantly less emissions and less noise pollution, he explained. Other alternatives include rakes, brooms and battery powered leaf blowers.

The irritation and potentially disrupted sleep caused by continuous loud noises can lead to higher stress levels which has a physical toll on the body. Health studies have indicated that noise pollution can have negative effects on the heart, the immune system, on sleep and on cognitive function, Phelps Bondaroff noted.

“It’s not just about annoyance, it’s about keeping you and your neighbours safe,” he said. “This transcends political boundaries.”

Phelps Bondaroff acknowledges the need for a “balanced approach” to the ban because there are several industries that employ leaf blowers. He recommends that council work with the industries to ease the transition.

Phelps Bondaroff will meet with councillors to develop the policy and will eventually formally present the petition to council.


@devonscarlett
devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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