Montreal suburb to adopt contentious summer leaf-blower ban, says mayor

Leaf blowers are making noise in a Montreal suburb where a municipal push to restrict use of the gardening tool has pitted neighbour and against neighbour.

The mayor of Beaconsfield, Que., says he expects council will vote Monday to adopt a ban on leaf blowers during the summer months.

If enacted, the ban would take effect next year and run June 1 through Sept. 30.

Georges Bourelle says the seasonal ban is a bid for “compromise” as the city becomes the latest Canadian municipality to be seized by debate over leaf-blower regulations.

Cities like Vancouver, Toronto and several Montreal suburbs have also reckoned with efforts to muffle the machines.

Bourelle says councillors in Beaconsfield started looking into issue because the leaf blower’s high-pitched drone was a potential nuisance, but their focus has since shifted to public health concerns.

He says the same forceful air speeds that allow leaf blowers to blast away grass cuttings also lead to the dispersion of dust and other fine particles, which he says can contribute to cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

The managing director of the Canadian Urban Environmental Health Research Consortium says the health implications of prolonged exposure to noise, emissions and airborne particles have been well documented, but more research is needed to assess the level of risk posed by leaf blowers.

University of Victoria professor Eleanor Setton says some local governments may decide there is sufficient evidence to support the hazards of leaf blowers to take a precautionary approach.

Adam Robertson, who owns an eavestrough cleaning business in Beaconsfield, says banning leaf blowers during part of peak season could triple the time it takes to clear out the gutters of a single house, forcing him to pass the increased labour costs to his customers.

Robertson says he’s among a legion of residents who are fed up with being “bylawed to death.”

Licensed pharmacist Janice Carr, who has been researching the issue for more than a decade, says the community needs to work together to learn more about the health implications of leaf-blower use, rather than dismissing council’s efforts as overzealous regulation.

Carr says she hopes business owners eventually catch on to the fact that there’s money to be made off the demand for low-noise landscaping.

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