Are you blown away by Rockcliffe Park?
Some people are blown away our parkland atmosphere. Some are blown away by the beautiful homes, walking paths and birds that are everywhere. Some are blown away by the incessant clamour of gas-powered leaf blowers (GPLBs) all spring, summer and fall which drowns out the birds, the parkland feeling and nature’s smells and destroys the quiet in their home.
I’m not sure where you stand on this, but there is a divide in our neighbourhood about the pros and cons of the over- use of GPLBs to remove leaves. Maybe we’re lucky people if noisy and polluting lawn-care companies’ equipment is our biggest problem. Did you know that some GPLBs make as much sound as a plane taking off – more than 100 decibels of low-frequency, home-penetrating noise? As well, GPLBs blowing up to 280 miles per hour send dust, fertilizers, topsoil, pollen, animal feces, herbicides spewing onto neighbours’ patios while they are trying to enjoy coffee and reading the morning paper. Over 100 cities in the US have restricted or banned GPLBs and other gas-powered lawn equipment. The NCC is taking steps to limit gas-powered equipment in a move to reduce their carbon foot print.
Studies show that GPLBs have very high emissions of pollutants. An oft-cited 2011 study in Edmunds found that “hydrocarbon emissions from a half-hour of yard work with the two-stroke leaf blower are about the same as a 3,900-mile drive from Texas to Alaska in a Ford Raptor.”
The technology in GPLB is outmoded. James Fallow summarizes the emissions problem in an October 2 newsletter; “Using a two-stroke engine is like heating your house with an open pit fire in the living room.” There must be less noisy and more efficient, environmentally friendly and neighbourly ways to collect leaves Rockcliffe Park.
The RPRA has formed a new Working Group to engage neighbours in ways to reduce GPLB’s presence. Maybe use them less often, or use rakes, or less noisy electric leaf-blowers, or let leaves compost. This might mean paying a little more for lawn care but benefits from less noise and less pollution can more than compensate. The Working Group will start with a series of articles in the RP newsletter, have place for events on the this website and get some guest speakers to talk about the future and alternatives to GPLBs. You might even get along better with your neighbours.
Reducing GHG Emissions – One Screaming Gas Leaf Blower at a Time
As you may have recently seen in local and national media, I recently had the pleasure of announcing that the National Capital Commission (NCC) is banning the use of gas-powered small tools (leaf blowers, line trimmers, hedge trimmers and small chainsaws) on NCC lands — becoming the first jurisdiction in Canada to enact such a blanket policy. The ban, effective April 1, 2023, also applies to all NCC maintenance contractors.
This decision not only serves to reduce noise levels and eliminate the smell of burning fossil fuel, but it is also a Commission-wide commitment to climate change leadership and will also serve to create a more sustainable National Capital Region. It supports our current Sustainable Development Strategy and will help the NCC transition to net-zero emissions and climate-resilient operations by 2050.
This commitment will enable the NCC to further its national leadership in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as one of only two federal Crown corporations to sign on to the federal government’s Sustainable Development Strategy.
This decision by the NCC accelerates progress toward our objective of reducing vehicle and equipment emissions by 80 percent by 2030. It also builds on recent initiatives – such as the parkways for people pilot project, the construction of the first zero carbon emissions federal building in the Capital Region and the ongoing planning for the retrofit of our future headquarters at 80 Elgin – to reduce emissions across NCC operations and lands.
As we confront the urgent need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions, we are doing immediate action where possible and making medium to long-term decisions now to help guide our organization in the coming decades as we continue our transition to a greener future.
Chief Executive Officer, National Capital Commission