Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps hopes the provincial government will consider a province-wide ban on one use plastic check out bags.
On July 1, a bylaw comes into effect that will ban the bags in her city.
“The real thing that this is aimed at is getting people, just like they did once upon a time before we invited plastic bags, to remember to bring own bag. It is that simple,” said Helps.
“We are starting with single-use plastic checkout bags because it is something people can hold in their hands and there is an easy alternative for.”
There is no official proposal yet before the province to ban plastic bags but Helps hopes the idea will be discussed.
The Victoria bylaw requires stores in the capital to stop providing plastic bags on July 1 but can continue to hand out existing stock until the end of the year.
Fines will be levelled starting Jan. 1, 2019, with any Victoria stores found handing out plastic bags eligible for a fine between $50 and $10,000.
Starting on July 1, customers in Victoria will be able to buy paper bags for $0.15 or a reusable bag for $1. Those prices will go up to 25 cents for a plastic bag and $2 for a reusable bag on July 1, 2019.
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Earlier this month, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled the City of Victoria could legally ban single-use plastic checkout bags.
The court dismissed the challenge to the city’s Checkout Bag Regulation by the Canadian Plastic Bag Association.
The Retail Council of Canada is concerned about Victoria’s bylaw because it targets retailers by banning plastic check out bags and not other plastics.
The retail council is concerned that banning the bags alone will “simply result in significant increases in paper bag distribution and an increase in the sales of ‘kitchen catchers’ for use in transporting and disposing solid waste.”
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Greg Wilson, the retail council’s director of government relations, favourswhat Vancouver is doing, which is considering a way to reduce all plastic waste, not just plastic bags.
“The City of Vancouver has passed a strategy here they are reducing all single use items,” said Greg Wilson. “Different stores might have different approaches to how they replace bags or how they replace coffee cups and so on.”
Helps said she has had no complaints from retailers in Victoria about the ban coming into effect on Sunday.
“I think people can get annoyed by paying an additional 15 cents per bag. As a small business we want to make our customers happy, so if people get upset we are going to absorb that cost,” said Courtside Sports owner Rose Del Rosario.