Don't Ban Balloons in Vancouver
This petition made change with 631 supporters!
On Monday September 18th, the Vancouver Parks and Recreation Board has an important decision to make on whether or not to ban balloons from all community centres and parks in Vancouver.
We would kindly ask the public and the Board Commissioners to please read our petition on why balloons should not be banned from your jurisdiction.
The "Motion on Notice", being moved by Commissioner Mackinnon, states the following reasons as to why balloons should be banned in Vancouver:
1. Balloons being made of latex or plastic are non-renewable, and nonrenewables
are an ever-increasing product in our landfills, beaches,waterways, oceans and other natural areas;
2. Animals both on land and in the oceans frequently misidentify deflated balloons as sources of food. Sea turtles are especially vulnerable as jellyfish are a common prey item and often the animals consume deflated balloons floating on the water’s surface, thinking they are a suitable food source which leads to stomach or intestinal blockages and eventual starvation;
3. Naturally curious animals, such as birds and dolphins, are attracted to bright colours and shiny objects, and end up mistakenly ingesting balloons;
4. Accidental consumption isn’t the only danger associated with balloons – the strings or ribbons attached to them are just as harmful. Birds often get entangled, and, once unable to fly, face certain death. Flippers and fins of sea turtles, seals, and dolphins can also become wrapped in string, causing infections, amputations and/or death by drowning; and
5. Balloons can also be harmful or even fatal to young children—one study* found that balloons cause more childhood deaths than any other toy.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation prohibit the use, and/or display of balloons in parks, community centres, and other areas within the jurisdiction of the Board."
Link to the motion:
As honourable and thoughtful as Commissioner Mackinnon's intentions are for wanting a cleaner and safer environment for wildlife and children, there are points to his argument that are misinformed and would prevent proper education and safety regarding balloons.
A ban on balloons may be justifiable, however, it is the belief of balloon artists and professional entertainers, that there are other ways we, as a community, can reduce the environmental impact and ensure the safety of wildlife, both on and off land, as well as the safety of children, without having to put in a restrictive practice.
We will go over the points mentioned above and provide research that has been done by balloon professionals to help aid the Vancouver Parks and Recreation Board into making a sound and wise decision.
"1. Balloons being made of latex or plastic are non-renewable, and nonrenewables are an ever-increasing product in our landfills, beaches,
waterways, oceans and other natural areas;"
What the motion is doing here is combining two different types of balloons together that have very different environment impacts. Latex balloons and foil or plastic balloons (commonly known as "mylar") are both made completely differently and have different effects on the environment.
Latex balloons are made from the sap of a rubber tree and is harvested in a similar fashion of tapping a tree in the same manner as how we tap maple trees for syrup. This means that latex balloons are created from an natural, renewable resource and keeps it's organic nature by being %100 biodegradable. It is similar to that of an oak in the time it takes to decompose.
Foil balloons are made from a metalized nylon and is not biodegradable in nature. There is no defense for foil balloons when it comes to being environmentally friendly and there will not be one made. Though it is not fair to pair both kinds of balloons together and say that both latex and foil balloons have the same impact on the environment when science and research clearly shows that one is environmentally friendly, while the other is not.
To have this pairing in the first point of the motion shows that there is lack of knowledge to which balloons can have an impact on the environment and should be re-evaluated if there is a need to have a ban on all balloons.
"2. Animals both on land and in the oceans frequently misidentify deflated balloons as sources of food. Sea turtles are especially vulnerable as jellyfish are a common prey item and often the animals consume deflated balloons floating on the water’s surface, thinking they are a suitable food source which leads to stomach or intestinal blockages and eventual starvation;
3. Naturally curious animals, such as birds and dolphins, are attracted to bright colours and shiny objects, and end up mistakenly ingesting balloons;"
Both of these points are making the same argument, animals eat balloons, and as such will be put together. This an important problem to bring up and should be treated seriously. However is this only a balloon problem? Or is it a littering problem in general?
Animals frequently eat litter they find on the ground, or in the ocean and there is a large amount of other products, such as bottle caps, that are just as colourful but equally dangerous. A more prevalent problem for sea life is the amount of plastic bags that are currently in the ocean, which is a much greater percentage than balloons.
In 2009, the CMC's U.S. Coastal Clean Up involved 9,114 of coastal and underwater miles (14,667.56 Kilometres) and found that the percentage of balloons collected equal to %1.04 of the total garbage picked up out of the ocean.
Now this isn't saying balloons don't cause pollution in the ocean, but it is showing that there are more prevalent dangers to our oceans than balloons. Which leads into the next point of instead of banning the product to reduce the already small effect it has on the ocean and wildlife, to educate the public on what happens to the balloon someone may let float away. A ban on balloons does not create educated people, but ignorant ones.
By not allowing balloons into your community centres and parks, you are also banning professional balloon decorators, entertainers, twisters and clowns that all have an awareness and expertise on the product and the effects it has on the environment. By allowing experts of balloons into your community centres and parks you give the opportunity for the public to be properly informed on the importance of how to dispose and handle balloons correctly.
" 4. Accidental consumption isn’t the only danger associated with balloons – the strings or ribbons attached to them are just as harmful. Birds often get entangled, and, once unable to fly, face certain death. Flippers and fins of sea turtles, seals, and dolphins can also become wrapped in string, causing infections, amputations and/or death by drowning; "
This answer to this is a similar one to that above. It is true that this is a problem, but a ban is not going to help inform people of the dangerous impact that is made from people releasing helium filled balloons into the air. It is through being informed and be given information on the impact their decisions cause, will help reduce the impact and ensure a safer cleaner environment for wildlife.
This argument that is being made is because of balloons that are inflated with helium may float away. But balloons filled with normal air do not cause this problem if disposed of properly. Twisted balloon creations that professionals make are not part of this problem, as long as children and parents are educated and encouraged to remember to throw away the bits of balloons in the appropriate receptacle.
Which leads into...
"5. Balloons can also be harmful or even fatal to young children—one study*
found that balloons cause more childhood deaths than any other toy."
Balloons are choking hazards for children under the age of 4. That is a fact. But having a ban on balloons does not inform parents, guardians and care givers the dangers of having a teething child bite on a balloon.
Balloon professionals regularly entertain children at birthdays, festivals, and other enjoyable events. Every entertainer wants children to have a safe and enjoyable time if they are going to have the opportunity to put a smile on their face with a balloon. That is why professionals play a crucial role in educating the public about the safety in handling and caring for balloons. As professional entertainers, we care about how people treat our products that we give away and know that an educated party will be a safe party for children.
Balloons are wonderful things. They create a sense of whimsy and create a fun, energetic atmosphere at parties and festivals. Bringing happiness to children and adults through balloons is a joy and passion that will never get old. Balloons have been around for centuries and will continue to be around for centuries to come. As a group of professionals who use balloons for entertainment purposes, we hope to work with the Vancouver Parks and Recreation Board to come up with alternative means of having balloons in our parks and community centres, as well as ensuring that our environment, wildlife and children, remain happy healthy.
Thank you for your time reading this petition to prevent the ban of balloons in Vancouver community centres and parks. If you agree with the above statement, please leave your signature to show support. If you are a member of the Board, I hope that opposing ideas have helped create new insight on balloons and how we can have the best of both worlds.
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