New Westminster could be the next B.C. city to ban the use of plastic bags.
City of New Westminster Coun. Lorrie Williams is proposing a motion calling for a ban on single-use plastic items such as straws and bags by 2019.
Williams said the inspiration for the ban came from the City of Victoria, which voted to outlaw plastic bags earlier this month.
The Canadian Plastic Bag Association (CPBA) is vowing to fight Victoria’s ban in B.C. Supreme Court. But Williams said she’s not worried about a legal challenge.
“I think if enough municipalities go ahead and do this, I don’t think they’re going to take us all to court,” she said.
“We’re willing to take that chance.”
Williams said she also plans to bring the idea of a ban on single-use items to the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM), which holds its annual meeting in Whistler in September.
“There was the Stone Age, the Iron Age and now we’re into the Plastic Age. And I think the Plastic Age’s time is coming to an end in the sense that we’re not going to rely on them as much as we did in the past.”
The details of Williams’ proposed ban, with the exception of a target date, remain unclear. Williams said if the motion is approved, staff will be directed to study the idea and report back on how best to implement it.
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However, the city may wish to turn to Victoria’s ban as a model. That city’s mayor, Lisa Helps, suggested in January that other municipalities use Victoria’s ban, which was developed over several years, as a template.
Under Victoria’s model, plastic bags will be phased out on July 1. Paper bags will cost a consumer 15 cents, and reusable bags $1. Beginning next January, those fees would be hiked to 25 cents for a paper bag and $2 for a reusable bag.
Penalties for violating Victoria’s bylaw will range from $100 to $10,000 for corporations, and and $50 to $500 for individuals.
The city is also spending $30,000 on an education campaign to prepare residents for the switchover.
New Westminster councillors will vote on the ban on Monday.
A representative from the plastics industry could not be reached for comment.
However, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association’s website argues that most shopping bags are reused and recycled, and other measures to reduce the number of plastic bags have already been successful.
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