VERNON - The Regional District of North Okanagan has kicked off its plastic bag ban with the hope of bringing the bylaw into force in the new year.
Directors at the Regional District voted unanimously on the first reading for a proposed ban on single-use plastic bags at its meeting yesterday, May 8. The vote set the wheels in motion, and if further approval is met, the ban could come into force by January 2020 at the earliest.
Businesses would be given a six-month transition period before enforcement of the ban comes into place. According to a staff report, meetings with industry representatives, advocacy groups and local business would take place as the bylaw is rolled out.
City of Vernon councillor and regional district director Kari Gares told iNFOnews.ca it is very important to hear from stakeholders as the bylaw moved forward.
"As worthwhile a concept as this is, I do believe it needs to take its time to play out so everybody has a say and in input," Gares said.
The regional district has also drafted a single-use plastic bag bylaw to be distributed to other municipalities and regional districts with the hope others will come onboard making the ban will be uniform across the region.
The board has said previously that slightly different regulations in neighbouring cities and communities could be confusing and a unified approach across the region would make regulating a single-use plastic bag ban far more effective.
And while some regional districts seem onboard with a ban, the level of urgency on the file varies.
Regional District of Central Okanagan spokesperson Jodie Foster said a single-use plastic bag ban was on the regional district's work plan, but they hadn't started working on it yet.
"We would welcome the chance to take a look at [the RDNO draft bylaw] but wouldn't be able to provide further comment until we've actually seen it," Foster said.
The Regional District of Thompson-Nicola told iNFOnews.ca it was not considering a plastic bag ban. Although the region may see a single-use plastic bag bylaw in Kamloops as staff at the City are currently drafting a report for council to discuss in the coming months.
The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is moving forward with the file. Solid waste management coordinator Cameron Baughen said they are planning to meet with the north and central Okanagan regional district's this month to discuss the issue and look at best practices. Baughen said following the meeting, staff will likely look at how to proceed with the file.
The North Okanagan regional district proposed bylaw follows other cities that already have or are considering implementing single-use plastic bag bans such as the City of Victoria, District of Tofino and the City of Salmon Arm.
The single-use plastic bag bylaw would prohibit businesses from giving out or selling single-use plastic bags.
Businesses would, however, be able to sell paper bags for a minimum of 15 cents, and reusable bags at a minimum of $1. Paper bags must consist of 40 per cent post-consumer recycled paper content, while reusable bags must be capable of at least 100 uses and be primarily made out of cloth or other washable fabric.
Fines for businesses that break the bylaw would range range from $100 to $10,000.
The proposed bylaw does not extend to other single-use plastic items such as straws and coffee cups lids.
— This story was updated at 1:43 p.m. Thursday, May 9, 2019 to clarify the earliest date the bylaw could come into effect.
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