Park board commissioner wants to make Vancouver parks emission free

Green commissioner Dave Demers proposes replacing gas-powered equipment with electric alternatives

One Vancouver Park Board commissioner is hoping to green the city’s fleet of landscaping equipment.

“Gas-powered outdoor equipment such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers and hedge trimmers are some of the worst polluters out there,” said commissioner Dave Demers.

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Demers has a notice on motion for next Monday’s park board meeting that, if adopted, would ask staff to develop a transition plan to replace gas-powered equipment with battery-operated equivalents where possible.

Demers is a landscaper by trade and transitioned his own equipment to battery-operated a few years ago. He admits that the upfront cost of the battery-operated equipment is usually between 20 and 40 per cent more than the gas-powered counterparts — a commercial-grade electric ride-on mower will cost $20,000 instead of $12,000 for one that runs on gas. However, ongoing operating costs are lower.

“Using those machines costs you much less,” Demers said. “We have electricity, it’s pretty cheap here and gas is quite expensive so within two or three years with that ride-on mower you save money… The engines are much simpler. So it means you have no carburetor to change, you have no air filters to change, you have no oil and gas to mix. All those costs adds up and in two to three years, usually, this equipment pays for itself.”

He adds that the pollution from gas-powered equipment also puts staff at risk.

“The pollution is terrible for our environment but also poses serious health risks to our park staff,” he said. “It’s completely unnecessary and Vancouver deserves better.”

The practice of using electric and battery-powered landscaping equipment at a municipal level does not appear to be widespread.

“I know in the U.S. there’s a handful of California cities, smaller to medium sized, that are accredited with an organization that helps you move away from gas-powered equipment,” he said.

Demers’s motion will be discussed at the next park board meeting on Jan. 28.

@JessicaEKerr

jkerr@vancourier.com

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