The Environment Committee supports the phasing out of gas-powered lawn equipment

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Gas-powered lawn equipment, such as exhaust-spitting, noisy leaf blowers, are on the road in Ottawa’s municipal government.

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On Tuesday, Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Rawlson King received majority support from the Council’s Standing Committee on the Environment, Water and Waste Management to start phasing out the gas-consuming equipment as soon as possible.

Ottawa has beautiful green spaces, and “maintenance of them should not be at the expense of the health of our community,” King said.

The municipality’s staff supports the proposal. They plan to report back to the council before the end of the year on a “green equipment plan” after seeing how battery-powered blowers, trimmers and small chainsaws perform in municipal operation between spring and autumn.

The committee heard that the transition to battery-powered gear will cost around $ 350,000 this year, with batteries accounting for a large portion of the cost.

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The pilot program would apply to the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, where most of the gas-powered equipment is used. Other departments would evaluate their own inventories and see how the pilot program shakes out.

Dan Chenier, the day-to-day manager in charge of parks and facilities, said there are 224 pieces of gas-powered equipment in his department and he is interested in participating in the phasing-out plan.

At Ottawa Fire Services, however, Deputy Chief Dave Matschke said there are nearly 300 gas-powered emergency tools used by firefighters with no viable alternatives on the market.

Two councilors questioned whether today’s battery technology can meet the city’s requirements for landscaping.

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Osgoode Coun. George Darouze said larger properties in rural areas will require extra battery power to blow leaves and cut hedges. Switching to battery-powered equipment could create more problems and costs for the city, Darouze said.

Darouze said it might be a better idea to apply the pilot program to smaller city parks.

Kanata Sydstat. Allan Hubley was also skeptical. He said he could not finish his lawn with a battery-powered lawn mower and had to buy more batteries.

Darouze and Hubley voted against the proposal.

Councilors Jean Cloutier, Keith Egli, Catherine McKenney, Shawn Menard, Scott Moffatt and King supported the plan.

Lawn mowers would not be part of the municipal government’s initial pilot program.

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King said that if the city is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, along with reducing noise pollution, it should act now.

Moffatt, chairman of the committee, said the proposal would only allow transitions to battery-powered equipment when that equipment is available and still meets the city’s operational needs.

The Council will consider the committee’s recommendation on 13 April.

The phasing out of gas-powered landscape tools would only apply to the municipality’s equipment. The National Capital Commission also plans to stop using gas-powered lawn equipment as of 2023.

Menard urged staff to investigate what a general ban on gas-powered lawn equipment would look like for Ottawa if it is something the municipality wants to pursue next term.

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