The process of saying goodbye to single-use plastic bags in Salmon Arm has begun, with public consultation and input to form the first steps.
Salmon Arm’s proposed bylaw banning bags is fashioned after Victoria’s, one implemented in July of last year and reportedly doing well.
“We are seeing a very high degree of compliance from businesses moving away from plastic check-out bags,” says Rory Tooke, Victoria’s manager of sustainability and asset management. “A lot of the hard work was working with the businesses right off the bat, listening to them… taking the feedback of all the stakeholders into account in the bylaw.”
He said other municipalities have followed suit.
Carl Bannister, Salmon Arm’s chief administrative officer, outlined highlights and considerations for council.
• The bylaw would impact approximately 175 retail stores and 50 food outlets/restaurants in the city. • A six-month transition period would allow businesses to use their existing plastic bag stock before the bylaw comes into full force on Jan. 1, 2020. • Exemptions where a reusable bag would not be suitable include packaging bulk items, frozen food, meats and poultry, flowers, large items and likely more as time passes.
Mayor Alan Harrison, who championed Salmon Arm’s plan to ban single-use plastic bags, says the hope is to pass the bylaw by July 1, which would dovetail with implementation of curbside food waste collection.
In the meantime, meetings with business and advocacy groups, open houses, a public meeting, school and chamber of commerce meetings, letters to businesses and a public hearing will take place. Changes to the bylaw would be considered based on input.
“Our purpose is to go out to the public now and let them know, yes, we are moving forward,” says Harrison.
Victoria was taken to court by the Canadian Plastic Bag Association, which argued the city didn’t have banning power because it required provincial approval. The BC Supreme Court ruled in favour of Victoria in June of last year, but the association filed a notice of appeal in July.
While Bannister said it may be advisable for council to wait for the outcome of the appeal, Harrison said the city will go ahead.
“We feel we’re a small player in a big ocean. We’re going to go ahead as we feel it’s the right thing to do.”
Tooke, meanwhile, says Victoria’s legal team feels confident in the city’s authority to regulate as it is.