Search to phase out gas-powered shipyard equipment burning summer pilot project

The city of Ottawa will look at phasing out small, gas-powered farm tools in favor of electric, starting with a pilot project this summer in the department that maintains parks and trees and trims the grass along roads.

The move was led by Rideau-Rockcliffe ward Coun. Rawlson King, and aims to reduce fumes, pollution and noise from leaf blowers and other equipment.

King’s proposal was approved Tuesday by the standing committee on environmental protection, water and waste management, but still requires full council approval on April 13.

“This proposal is a result of residents’ advocacy,” King said, adding that he has been working with voters to close gaps in city policies after declaring a climate emergency in 2019.

“If we’re very serious about achieving our climate goals, our emissions goals, we really need to start researching and start using this technology.”

King first signaled that he wanted to discuss the city’s shipyard equipment in November last year, after the National Capital Commission decided to ban such gas – powered tools from 2023 onwards.

The Department of Public Works is the largest user of such equipment and supports King’s idea, said Allyson Downs, the city’s director of parks and forestry.

Three or four crews will try electric blowers, trimmers and small chainsaws this summer at a cost of around $ 40,000 or $ 50,000. Batteries are the biggest cost, Downs said.

“We will not stop there,” she said, explaining that public works would look at how to transfer all its small equipment from gas to electric.

Concerns about batteries

In the meantime, the leisure department also intends to make the change. It has also taken an inventory and determined that it has 224 leaf blowers, lawn mowers and other equipment.

As for the fire department, Deputy Fire Chief Dave Matschke said it has nearly 300 gas-powered units for emergency work, but there are few electrical options right now that would have the necessary power.

Two committee members – councilors George Darouze and Allan Hubley – disagreed on King’s proposal on concerns about battery technology.

“For small equipment, it is not there yet,” said Darouze, who represents the rural area of ​​Osgoode, where residents have large properties. Darouze said he bought an electric fan and “I can not even finish my garden.”

Hubley also wondered about the shift, and whether the city would need a “battery-filled” warehouse kept charged.

On the other hand, Capital ward Coun. Shawn Menard asked how it could be possible for the city to move even faster and also get residents to abandon gas-powered tools.

Public construction workers intend to report back to the committee with a departmental plan for green equipment after next fall’s local elections.

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