Ban on leaf blowers comes at a key time

Columnist Jim McGregor has just purchased an electric leaf blower. Will he have to keep it in the garage?

The City of Oak Bay is reportedly looking at banning the use of leaf blowers in residential areas of the city. The people supporting this decision cite problems with being exposed to extreme sustained levels of high-pitched noise and an excess of exhaust emissions. I think a lot of cranky old seniors must live in Oak Bay.

Wouldn’t you know that I just recently bought my first leaf blower, and now people are starting movements to ban them. I bought one for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I have a lot of leaves and needles that collect in drains and gutters. Secondly, most of my neighbours have one.

It is very embarrassing to be outside on a Saturday morning with a push broom and a dust pan when others are blowing gravel or sucking up debris from their lawns with no effort at all. Sure, they would politely wave and smile at my 19th century method of dust removal, but I knew what they are thinking.

When I finally made the decision to buy one, I did some investigation into price, rpm, weight, and size. There was quite a selection to choose from and a guy has to spend a lot of time examining the features. After all, it’s a lot like a new car. Once it appears in your driveway, your neighbours will give it the once over and either shake their heads or give it a thumbs up.

One of the big decisions is to whether to go with gas or electric. They both make noise but if I am concerned about the environment I’m leaving my grandchildren, the electric may be the better choice, given that gasoline is fast approaching $1.50 per litre.

My in-depth blower analysis reveals that I can purchase an electric blower with an equivalent rpm to the gas model with more features, including  the vacuum conversion, at less cost. I already have a long extension cord and I will be saving money not having to buy gas.

With my new toy safely in my garage, my next consideration is when and where to use it. Knowing that I am having some tree work done, I figure I should wait until that has been completed. One of the concerns in the proposed Oak Bay noise bylaw is the restriction on times when blowers can and cannot be used.

Certainly, I don’t want to be out there too early and no one wants to hear one buzzing away in the quiet evening hours. Shortly after 8:30 on any given Saturday in my neighbourhood, the chain saws, mowers, pressure washers and leaf blowers all start at once, as if a conductor in a grand orchestra has waved his baton.

I decide just after lunch I will take my seat in the blower section of this ensemble, and after a bit of very simple assembly I am plugged in and ready to blow.

Thirty seconds in my blower stops. I look around and see the cord has caught on one of  Noma garden lights. I straighten the light and plug it back in. Thirty seconds later, the cord has caught on my brick planter and it stops again. I look around and don’t see anyone watching but I know they’re out there.

Depression sets in as I realize, to heck with the environment, I should have bought the gas one. At least that’s what McGregor says.

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