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Corey Gardi says city staff, fellow councillors left him holding the bag

He won't back down, insisting we ban single-use plastics effective May 1, 2022
Plastic bag
Stock image

Stung by lack of support for a recent plastic-free pledge initiative, Ward 5 Coun. Corey Gardi was not a happy camper at Monday night's City Council meeting.

"I'm going to be honest that I was disappointed by the results of the plastic-free pledge," Gardi said.

"I don't think it was promoted to the degree that it should have been. I don't know if there was any significant encouragement within the Corporation of the City of Sault Ste. Marie to encourage its workers and members to participate in the pledge."

City officials agreed in April to work with Clean North to develop a community pledge program in which households, businesses, schools, community organizations and workplaces would be challenged to audit their use of single-use plastics, setting goals to reduce or eliminate plastics waste by using eco-friendly alternatives.

But the campaign was less than overwhelmingly successful.

By the end of September just 15 pledge registrations had been received:

  • one business responded
  • pledges were received from just two city facilities, representing arenas, sports fields and pools
  • six families signed up
  • six individuals joined, including just two city councillors

"I have no idea if the City of Sault Ste. Marie directly reached out to community partners like post-secondary institutions, school boards, social services administration board, Chamber of Commerce, PUC, etcetera, to explain the pledge or to help communicate it," Gardi said.

"I'm also disappointed, frankly, that only two city councillors... signed the pledge, despite it getting unanimous support from the people around this table."

"I'm of the opinion that the education piece did not work. When it comes to the environment, we have to act swiftly and boldly."

On Monday night, Gardi and Ward 3 Coun. Donna Hilsinger served notice they intend to introduce the following resolution at the next City Council meeting on Nov. 15:

Elimination of Plastics

Mover: Councillor D. Hilsinger
Seconder: Councillor C. Gardi

Whereas City Council has since January of 2020 shown its strong desire to see the reduction and elimination of plastic bags and other plastics in our community; and

Whereas City Council has now received the report from staff on the elimination of plastic bags from the motion dated September 25, 2021; and

Whereas the report shows that the plastic pledge has not achieved the desired result to see residents and businesses adopt the pledge; and

Whereas numerous provinces and cities in Canada including: Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Montreal, Jasper, Prince Albert, Vancouver, Edmonton and Regina, among others either have or will soon have bans on plastic bags and other plastics;

Now therefore be it resolved that staff will undertake what is required to put a plastics ban in place in Sault Ste. Marie effective May 1, 2022 on the following items at a minimum: plastic grocery bags used in grocery stores, retail and restaurants, plastic straws and stir sticks, plastic cutlery, and plastic take-out food containers used by restaurants.

In addition to the plastics ban, staff will create a community waste reduction strategy with robust goals to be approved by City Council and in place by May 1, 2022.