Leaf blower by-law motion dropped from Beaconsfield agenda
PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO
Beaconsfield Councillor David Pelletier said about 95 per cent of the residents in District 1 opposed the proposed ban on leaf blowers between June 15 and September 15. The motion was dropped from the March 21 agenda.
Following a reported last-minute overwhelming opposition, the motion to ban the use of leaf blowers in Beaconsfield between from June 15 to September 15 was removed from the agenda at the March 21 meeting.
“The by-law will not be adopted and will not be resubmitted,” said District 2 Councillor Karen Messier. “There was miscommunication that we were going to adopt it with no information given and it created some confusion with our residents.”
Messier, who chairs the town’s environment committee said the issue has been in work for several years and took into account a citizen forum conducted in 2015 showed 40 per cent of the population was in favour of the summer ban, 45 per cent against, and 15 had no opinion.
As reported in Your Local Journal March 2, the three-month ban was being considered more for health reasons than noise concerns. The majority of leaf blowers used in lawn care in the town are gas-powered and Messier said they blow particulate matter – including dust, pollen, and mold – into the air that can affect residents with compromised respiratory systems.
Messier’s subsequent article in the town’s Contact newsletter, in which it was mistakenly printed that the motion had been adopted, did not elicit significant feedback until Thursday, March 17 when a number of residents contacted the city to oppose the motion.
An email sent from Adam’s Eaves Gutter/Eavestrough Specialists urged residents to contact their councillors to oppose the by-law.
“I feel that this by-law is unnecessary and just another way that will dictate to Beaconsfield taxpayers like you and service people in general what they can and can’t do,” said an email sent to past and present customers in Beaconsfield and signed by Adam Robertson. “Can you imagine paying the municipal taxes you do and not being allowed to even clean up your own yard with a blower?”
A number of residents in attendance at the council meeting left following Messier’s announcement but a few remained to question the motion’s quick reversal.
“Could we have a clearer explanation of what happened to the leaf-blower by-law?” asked resident Jim Leeke. “I’m quite surprised by this turn of events. You may have discussed it in caucus but I’d like to hear some discussion of why you withdrew the by-law.”
Messier said following emails received by a number of contractors, residents spoke out overwhelmingly against the motion and the previous majority support of the council had shifted.
“From time to time, you will see votes that are not unanimous,” said Messier. “We have a good democratic system here. I feel bad that it’s come to this but there’s not a will at this point to move this thing forward in any way.”
Leeke urged council to take a second look at noise pollution that he said becomes unbearable in the summer with contractors’ gasoline-powered leaf-blowers, lawnmowers, and weed-trimmers.
“We can’t legislate behaviour between neighbours,” said District 1 Councillor David Pelletier. “Initially, I very much supported the idea in principle but in practice, it’s very different and we started hearing from people we weren’t expecting. If we passed the by-law, it would affect people we didn’t intend it to affect.”
“They caved to commerce,” said resident Susan Marshall who is also the president of the Beaconsfield Garden Club and was in support of the proposed ban. She said the problems stem from the number of contracts on the same street, leading the leaf blowers running as multiple homes are maintained on the same day. “The often drive their mowers along the street to the next property.
Both Leeke and Marshall said they would have started a petition to support the by-law but were led to believe it had already passed as indicated in the Contact article, for which Messier apologized to those in attendance.
“We felt that it was a very equitable by-law because you could use your leaf blower for your spring and fall clean-up,” said Messier. “But in the summer months, when they’re not really necessary for blowing grass around, we should not allow it.”
Messier said the supporters of the by-law were silent and the 15 per cent who declined to answer the survey on the issue could have swayed the motion.
“Maybe this will create some awareness,” said Pelletier. “What the contractors should be doing is cutting the grass into the lawn instead of out in the street where they have to clean it up later on. Maybe now they’ll be more sensitized to the subject.”