Salmon Arm moving to ban plastic bags

The mayor of Salmon Arm, B.C., says people will adjust to the city’s ban on plastic bags. Global News

Salmon Arm is following the lead of other Canadian municipalities in banning plastic bags. Mayor Alan Harrison is leading the charge.

He hopes to have the plastic bag ban bylaw in place by next summer.

“That bylaw will be in place for the first six months and we won’t be enforcing, but it will be a learning process for everyone,” said Harrison. “Starting January 1, 2020, we’ll enforce the bylaw and, if it’s like other jurisdictions across Canada and around the world, people will adjust.”

Salmon Arm residents use a lot of plastic bags. According to the mayor, Salmon Arm residents use 1.7 million bags a year. That’s a lot of bags, considering Salmon Arm’s population is only 20,000.

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David Askew owns one of Salmon Arm’s largest grocery stores. He’s on board with the ban and has been slowly phasing it in at his store.

“We have instituted a charge for bags. We charge five cents a bag,” said Askew. “That started in the summer and that’s reduced our consumption by 20 to 25 per cent. Yes, it’s had quite an impact.”

Some Salmon Arm residents are in favour of the ban.

“We don’t need them,” one person told Global News. “We’ve got way too many recyclable bags and we might as well use them.”

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Others, meanwhile, are not convinced.

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“I don’t think we should fully put a ban on plastic bags,” said another person, “because some people just don’t have their own cloth bags to use.”

But Salmon Arm’s plastic bag ban might run into a roadblock down the road. The Canadian Plastic Bag Association is fighting the ban in court, arguing that 90 per cent of plastic bags are recycled. But Harrison says Salmon Arm isn’t going to wait for the courts to decide.

“We’re not going to wait,” said the mayor. “We’re going to move ahead here.”

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