Okanagan regional districts still talking about plastic garbage | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan regional districts still talking about plastic garbage

Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

KELOWNA - An Okanagan-wide ban on single-use plastic bags may be much further away than Vernon’s mayor expects.

Vernon mayor Victor Cumming told iNFOnews.ca last week he was hopeful that the North Okanagan could lead on the ban and get other regional districts on board and roll out in unison across the three Okanagan regional districts. While preliminary discussions are underway, it doesn't appear to be as high a priority.

“It’s not currently an item on our agenda,” Central Okanagan Regional District board chair Gail Given said today, March 5. “We have a solid waste management plan that was approved a couple of years back. One of the initiatives in there, I believe, was to look into (a plastic bag ban). Obviously, there are some other regions that are looking at it ahead of us.”

While the issue has been raised by some Central Okanagan directors, the concept remains at a staff level.

Each of the Okanagan’s regional districts has its own separate waste reduction plan.

“The North Okanagan is looking at options for municipalities to restrict businesses providing plastic bags as packaging,” Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen solid waste coordinator Cameron Baughen said. “They have reached out to discuss this issue with our board chair and I have been asked to provide a report to our board.”

He did not say when that report might be complete. 

Central Okanagan regional district spokesperson Jodie Foster said the North Okanagan plan is to go big.

“Because plastic bags and single-use plastic is such a big issue, they (North Okanagan) were looking to the provincial government for some guidance,” she said. “And also, they were looking at, if it is to happen, then hopefully it will happen in a bigger region than the Central Okanagan or the North Okanagan but the whole valley.”

While there have been some discussions “nobody has actually moved ahead with that yet,” Foster added. “It’s a potential project that hasn’t been confirmed yet.”

Given noted that the Central Okanagan’s waste management plan included significant public consultation and that there would likely be strong push back if a bag ban were proposed.

“From my perspective, the less plastic that goes into the landfill the better,” Given said. “But I don’t know that a ban actually works. There are unintended consequences that may happen, like dumping in rural areas. We’re working on some other initiatives first and foremost.”

Given wouldn't offer any timelines.

“I look forward to dialogue with others in our valley,” she said.

What do you think? Is this something local governments should get moving on or is this unnecessary? Let us know in the comments below.

— With files from Steve Arstad in Penticton

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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