The two-stroke gasoline engines found in leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, and other power equipment pollute at a higher rate than other equipment and vehicles. According to research from the California Air Resources Board, one hour of operation of a commercial leaf blower can emit as much pollution in the form of reactive organic gases and nitrogen oxides as driving approximately 1,770 kilometers in a new passenger vehicle.
Reactive organic gases and nitrogen oxides significantly contribute to ozone and particulate pollution which pose a significant risk to both human and environmental health and contribute to the declining populations of insect species, including pollinator insects like butterflies and bees. As well, equipment powered by two-stroke engines produce levels of noise varying from 75 to 110 decibels. Sounds above 85 decibels are deemed harmful by the provincial government.
Green Park Board Commissioners and Green Trustees have previously introduced related motions. In 2019 Park Board passed a resolution by Green Commissioner Dave Demers titled ‘Renewal Strategy for Landscape Equipment – Towards an Emission-Free Reality’ aimed at phasing out two-stroke engines from its operational activities. In December 2020, 33% of all Park Board equipment was ‘zero-emission’ and full transition is expected to be completed by the end of 2024. Green Trustee Estrellita Gonzalez also introduced a motion titled ‘Renewal Strategy for Emission-free Landscape Equipment’ which passed in April, 2019 directing staff to develop a transition plan to replace gas-powered landscape maintenance equipment with emission-free equivalents or quasi-equivalents where possible.