Colwood poised to join ban on single-use plastic bags

Colwood is getting on the bag ban bandwagon. 

Municipal councillors on Monday gave two readings of a draft bylaw that would ban the use of single-use plastic checkout bags and will now consult with stakeholders and residents.

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The target date for implementation is January 2020.

“I think that it’s very important for our community to be pretty much the same as everyone else,” Coun. Cynthia Day said.

“Everyone is moving away from plastic bags and toward reusable bags that have a longevity and help to eliminate another source of materials in our landfill.”

While supporting the two readings, Coun. Doug Kobayashi said action is needed on other materials that are polluting beaches.

“We’re tackling problems that, if you read the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, the biggest problem is not plastic bags. It’s, in fact, plastic cups and paper cups — the non-recyclable ones. That’s the biggest problem out there,” Kobayashi said.

“We’re legislating something that is like 28th on the list and we’re not tackling the big issues.”

Coun. Michael Baxter said Hartland Landfill is filling up, so he’ll support any measure that slows that.

“We really have no idea what we’re going to do when that’s full,” he said. “Frankly, that scares me to death, and anything we can do, absolutely anything we can do to stop things going in the landfill, I’m in favour of until somebody tells me what we’re going to do when it’s full.”

Coun. Gordie Logan said the community is well on its way on the initiative.

“Superstore did this a number of years ago, followed by Thrifty,” he said.

“I do support the first and second reading initially today to have that conversation with the stakeholders — businesses, specifically in terms of how best to work with them to enact something like this so that they’re prepared.”

Under the proposed Colwood bylaw, businesses can provide a paper or reusable checkout bag if a customer requests one. They must charge 25 cents for a paper bag and $2 for a reusable bag.

There are exemptions: Plastic bags can be used for loose bulk and hardware items, frozen foods and meat, poultry and fish, prepared foods or baked goods and prescription drugs from a pharmacy, among other goods.

Victoria was the first in the region to implement a single-use plastic bag ban in July 2018.

A Saanich bylaw prohibiting single-use plastic checkout bags is expected to come in effect by Jan. 1, 2020.

Esquimalt is also considering a ban.

Under Victoria’s bylaw, businesses are prohibited from providing customers single-use plastic bags. They are allowed to provide paper or reusable bags to customers, for a minimum fee of 15 cents for paper bags and $1 for reusable bags. The fees increase to 25 cents and $2 respectively on July 1.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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