Esquimalt next to study ban on plastic bags

Esquimalt could be the next municipality to ban single-use plastic bags, following council approval Monday night to start examining the move.

Victoria has had a bylaw banning plastic bags since July, although businesses have until Jan. 1 to use up their remaining stock. Saanich has established December 2019 as its target for a bylaw taking effect, with businesses having until June 2020 to get through their inventory.

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“We decided to go forward,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins. “So staff will bring back a timeline for a public-engagement process and the steps that we need to take toward having a bylaw.”

It is difficult to say how long the evaluation will take, she said.

“I think it really is influenced by what we hear not only from the general public, but businesses to be able to adapt,” Desjardins said. “My sense would be that it will be shorter than the timeline for Victoria because businesses have already had to go through this in Victoria, so those that have businesses around the region will already know how to make those changes.

“I would suspect that it’s certainly going to take up to a year, perhaps, to do this process and do it well.”

Desjardins said she believes that a number of Esquimalt businesses will stop using the bags on their own.

“That’s what we’ve heard from some of the businesses already,” she said. “They knew eventually it would come and so they’ve already started to try and make that transition.”

Desjardins pointed out that Victoria survived a legal move against its ban launched by the Canadian Plastic Bag Association.

“Victoria not only went through the process, but also went through the court challenge, and that means it’s been very helpful to the rest of us that want to move forward with a ban on plastic bags,” she said. “We know that the Victoria bylaw will stand up to a challenge.”

Still, each community is different, she said,

“Certainly we want to make sure we do a robust consultation process so that we hear from Esquimalt businesses and residents as to where there may be unique things to our community that we need to take into consideration for our bylaw.”

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