Some municipalities in Okanagan, Shuswap pleased with province's move toward single-use plastic ban - InfoNews

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Some municipalities in Okanagan, Shuswap pleased with province's move toward single-use plastic ban

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
September 16, 2020 - 7:00 PM

The province is laying the groundwork to allow municipalities in B.C. to ban certain kinds of single-use plastic products as some local government's in the Okanagan and Shuswap await the move with bylaws waiting to be passed into law.

The Ministry of Environment announced in a media release this week its approval of single-use plastic bag bans in Richmond, Victoria, Saanich, Tofino and Ucluelet. The province is planning to draft a new regulation under the Community Charter to allow local governments to ban single-use plastics, such as shopping bags, plastic straws and polystyrene foam take-out containers, without requiring provincial approval.

The City of Salmon Arm was pursuing a plastic-bag ban, but Mayor Alan Harrison said his recommendation would be to hold off for now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a teleconference with Environment Minister George Heyman yesterday, Sept. 15, Harrison said the City was presented with a few options. The first is to put the bylaw forward for provincial approval, or they could wait roughly six to eight months when municipalities will likely gain the ability to approve bans themselves.

Harrison is leaning towards the second option, but the matter will still need to be discussed with city council.

“I don’t feel the time is right,” Harrison said, adding there are some retail stores that are still not allowing reusable bags during the pandemic.

The minister told the City the provincewide single-use plastic ban will likely be coming within the next in the next two years.

READ MORE: Salmon Arm may be among first in B.C. to ban plastic bags

The Regional District of the North Okanagan was also pleased to hear the province had approved the banning of single-use plastics in several B.C. communities.

The regional district currently has its own single-use bylaw waiting for provincial approval, communications officer Ashley Gregerson said, but there hasn’t been a timeframe given for the approval for the bylaw. The district has also been advocating for a provincewide ban.

“We’re still advocating for that so we were happy to see as part of (the ministry's) announcement that it might take steps towards that,” she said. “We think that will be more effective.”

In the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, solid waste coordinator Cameron Baughen said at this point the district will conduct public consultations to see if municipalities would like to pursue a single-use plastics ban, but is in favour of harmony between different jurisdictions.

“We’ve asked the province to set out a provincial-wide ban of plastic bags,” Baughen said.

READ MORE: Plans for Okanagan plastic bag bans awaiting Victoria decision

In addition to the ban, the province is expanding the number of single-use products to be recycled through industry-funded residential recycling programs, including plastic cutlery, sandwich bags, stir sticks and other items, the ministry said. Details on how residents can participate will be part of future consultations.

The ministry is also exploring adding recycling programs for materials such as mattresses, electric-vehicle batteries, propane canisters and more. It will also look to improve recycling of packaging in the industrial, commercial and institutional sector.

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