Blowing up controversy: Should gas leaf blowers be banned?

Blowing up controversy: Should gas leaf blowers be banned?
Watch Love them or loathe them, leaf blowers are a reality on Vancouver Island this time of year. But a Saanich man's trying to get gas-powered ones banned. Tess van Straaten looks at the swirling controversy.

They’re noisy — really noisy — and at this time of year, they’re everywhere.

But leaf blowers aren’t just blowing leaves — they’re also whipping up vigorous debate on Vancouver Island.

“They can be quite disruptive and I was finally woken up in the early morning one too many times,” says Teale Phelps Bondaroff, raising his voice to be heard over the noise of a leaf blower in a Saanich park.

Phelps Bondaroff has started a petition to ban gas-powered leaf blowers in Saanich and it’s not just because of the annoyance factor.

“It also has health impacts, respiratory impacts, as well as impacting our environment negatively so there’s really not that much good about them,” Phelps Bondaroff says.

He’s started documenting rather pointless leaf blowing efforts that just swirl around debris and add to noise and environmental pollution.

But professional landscapers say for large commercial properties, blowers are a necessity.

“I personally find them very effective,” says Jacqui Hall Garden City Landscaping. “It’s not cost-effective for people paying for your services because if I had to rake the property around here, it would take a really long time.”

Garden City’s in the processing of switching from pollution-emitting gas blowers to quieter, and more environmentally-friendly ones.

And so is the City of Victoria — phasing out all of its gas-powered small engine equipment by 2025.

But experts say you don’t really need to rake leaves at all.

Dead leaves are a great fertilizer so all you need to do when you’re mowing your lawn is run over them a couple times with your mower and break them up.

“They call them leaves for a reason — leave them there,” Phelps Bondaroff advises. “They actually create habitat for inspects and birds and great mulch that increases water retention for your soil.”

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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