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Council votes unanimously to proceed with plastic bag ban

Staff instructed to draw up bylaw to present to council by July 1
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The city has indicated its strong commitment to wean itself off plastic.

Council is asking staff to come back with a bylaw that would ban certain plastics, including bags.

A report from staff on the elimination of plastic bags showed a recent push for a plastic reduction pledge from businesses and residents fell flat.

Council heard that 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

Not wanting to fall behind in this initiative, council took the lead.

“We need to take matters into our own hands,” said Coun. Donna Hilsinger, who along with Coun, Corey Gardi, have been leading the anti-plastic campaign.

Gardi was not at Monday night’s council meeting. Coun, Matthew Shoemaker stepped in to second the motion. 

He wanted to make sure that the idea was legal and city solicitor Karen Fields assured him that it was as long as it did not conflict with similar federal or provincial bans.

The federal government has such a policy in the works.

Fields initially admitted that the May deadline would have been pretty tight. In fact, if public consultations are taken into account, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Fields said that 571 businesses would be affected.

After some discussion, the date was moved to July 1 to leave more room for public consultation.

The items affected at a minimum are 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.

Council indicated there would have to be some exceptions such as the need for plastics in hospital settings. There was also a recognition that reusable bags were preferred to paper bags which also have an environmental impact.

“We have to stop doing things that are hurting the planet,” said Hilsinger.

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

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Frank Rupnik

About the Author: Frank Rupnik

Frank Rupnik is Editor of SooToday. Frank is a veteran writer and editor who has worked at daily newspapers across Ontario for more than 30 years
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