Saint John council moves forward with plastic bag ban bylaw

Click to play video 'Saint John councillor wants city to ban single-use plastic' Saint John councillor wants city to ban single-use plastic
The federal government wants to ban single-use plastic by the end of 2021, so municipalities throughout the Maritimes are working towards that deadline – Nov 7, 2020

Saint John council has voted to move forward with a bylaw to ban single-use plastic bags in stores by the end of June 2021.

City manager John Collin said in Monday’s council meeting that the city approached the Fundy Regional Services Commission to design a common approach to ban single-use plastic bags in the region.

The approach has been developed and a date has been set, Collin said.

“That’s tremendous and a positive step forward,” said Collin. “As city manager, I believe we can achieve that and have bylaw in time for that date.”

Read more: Canada-wide ban on many single-use plastics on track for 2021, minister says

The one thing to watch, he said, is the federal government’s announcement on legislating prohibition of single-use plastics in 2021.

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“If there’s a federal law, there will no longer be a requirement for bylaws,” Collin said.

Collin said he sees no issue in asking council for approval to have a bylaw to reduce plastic bags by June 30, 2020.

Elsewhere in the province, Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe banned plastic checkout bags on Oct. 1.

Deputy Mayor Shirley McAlary says Moncton has sent a copy of its bylaw to the Saint John clerk in an effort to have the same rules across the region.

“It is a great regional initiative… It shows we’re working together on it,” McAlary said.

Click to play video 'Retailers and consumers adjusting to plastic bag bans' Retailers and consumers adjusting to plastic bag bans
Retailers and consumers adjusting to plastic bag bans – Oct 1, 2020

She said the summer goal ensures retailers have enough time to prepare, while still having the bylaw implemented before next fall.

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“Most of our retailers are ready to go, and most of our citizens realize that plastic bags are a thing of the past,” McAlary said.

While the goal is to have the same bylaw across the region, Saint John council will have to independently pass the bylaw for the municipality.

The Moncton bylaw will be used as a template, Collin said.

“The only way we would deviate from that template is if we notice something that is specific to our circumstance in Saint John,” Collin said.

Read more: No more single-use plastic bags in Nova Scotia stores

The council passed the motion to design the bylaw 9-1, with only councillor, Blake Armstrong, in opposition.

If successful, that region in New Brunswick will join P.E.I. and Nova Scotia, which have banned single-use plastic bags provincewide.