British Columbia

Landscaping in Vancouver parks should be emission-free, says commissioner

Vancouver park commissioners are scheduled to discuss phasing out gas-powered landscaping equipment for more environmentally friendly alternatives during Monday's park board meeting.

'It's an amazing amount, a frightening amount of pollutants … that it produces,' says commissioner

A Vancouver park attendant uses a gas-powered leaf blower to clear leaves in Stanley Park. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Vancouver park commissioners will discuss phasing out gas- and oil-powered landscaping equipment in the city's parks at a meeting this Monday.

Green Party commissioner Dave Demers has put forward the motion to study replacing gas-powered leaf blowers, lawn mowers and hedge trimmers with electric alternatives.

"It's an amazing amount, a frightening amount of pollutants, not just CO2 but a bunch, a variety of pollutants that it produces," said Demers of the equipment.

In 2017, the California Air Resources Board reported that operating a commercial lawn mower for one hour emits as much pollution as driving a Toyota Camry 480 kilometres. For a commercial leaf blower, the pollution produced was equivalent to driving 1,800 kilometres.

Demers, who runs a landscaping company, says the carcinogenic exhaust and greenhouse gases from the machinery create a health hazard for Park Board workers and the population in general.

He also says the engines create excessive noise in residential areas.

Demers wants park staff to develop a plan for phasing out gas-powered equipment by purchasing battery-powered replacements as the old machines wear out.

"Every year, batteries, equipment itself that's battery-powered, improves dramatically," says Demers who's been transitioning his business out of emissions for three years.

"I would never go back to gas-powered. It's so much easier and much more fun as well to use battery powered equipment."

Demers wants park staff to study the costs of implementing the phase-out as well as the potential reduction of carbon emissions and increased productivity.

He said the park board could recuperate the cost of the new emission-free equipment through gas savings.

He's also speaking with Green Party colleagues on the Vancouver School Board about making a similar transition for equipment used on school grounds.

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