Montreal

Tensions flare at Beaconsfield council meeting as city passes leaf blower ban

More than 100 residents came out to weigh in on Beaconsfield's proposed leaf blower ban Monday night, with some locals booing Mayor Georges Bourelle and drowning him out with raucous yelling.

More than 100 people showed up to voice opinions on the proposed seasonal ban

Cole Bellas ,15, and Trevor Lafave, 16, own a lawn business called Leaf Boys. They say they need to blow leaves in order to do a good job. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

More than 100 residents came out to weigh in on the City of Beaconsfield's proposed leaf blower ban Monday night, with some locals booing Mayor Georges Bourelle and drowning him out with raucous yelling and jeers.

The majority of those in attendance were against the ban, saying that they feel the city should have consulted with citizens beforehand and is now over-regulating the issue.

Despite the harsh criticism, council voted five to one to accept the new bylaw. It will come into effect starting next year.

The ban will only be in effect for the summer months, not during spring or fall — often the times at which leaf blowers are most often used in home landscaping.

Some residents spoke in favour of the ban, citing the original reasons for its implementation: noise and air pollution.

Bourelle told CBC when the idea was first floated last month that debris particles from leaf blowers can have a "big impact on people with health issues — particularly children, particularly the elderly."

"We are talking about sweeping mould, sweeping fungal spores, sweeping insect eggs, weed seeds, fertilizers, animal feces and dust," he said.

So many citizens showed up at the council meeting that some had to watch the meeting's live stream on their smartphones in the lobby at city hall.

Pre-vote protest draws police

Two police cars arrived after the chaotic meeting had already begun, with officers telling CBC News that they were there "just in case" anything happened.

Two police cars arrived outside the Beaconsfield council meeting, Monday night. (Jennifer Yoon/CBC)

The meeting itself was preceded by a protest outside, with residents waving handmade signs advocating for the ban to be killed.

Several protesters told CBC that it's not so much about the use of leaf blowers as it is about how the city went about enacting this bylaw.

"It's a deficit of democracy," said longtime Beaconsfield resident Mike Purvis. "We elected the government to run a town and give us good governance, but that's not what's happening."

It's a sentiment echoed by Barbara Fernie, who was also in attendance at the meeting.

"They are circumventing the democratic process," she said. "Let us make an informed decision."

Residents spoke out at the meeting both for and against the plan to ban use of leaf blowers in the summer. (CBC)

Also among the protesters were teenagers Trevor Lafave and Cole Bellas, who run a lawn care business together called Leaf Boys.

"My friend and I here, we cut lawns. So we want to be sure that we can get rid of the grass cuttings after we cut the lawn. And it would take too much time for us to sweep," said Lafave.

"People pay us to do a good job, and we don't want to leave it a mess," added Bellas.

With files from CBC's Kate McKenna

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