Oak Bay set aside a little cash and staff time to move forward with a plastic bag ban this year.
Councillors were sitting as committee – where all motions require ratification at a future council meeting – when they looked at several options presented by staff after a survey of businesses regarding plastic use.
The committee opted to make room in the 2022 budget to have staff develop a checkout bag regulation bylaw to align with neighbouring communities where a ban is already in place.
The municipal survey of businesses in late 2021 found more than half of those who filled out the survey report using no single-use plastic on site already.
Some respondents commented they’ve already eliminated plastic bags, expecting a federal ban would be in place by now. That served as both the argument for and against Oak Bay developing its ban now. Coun. Eric Zhelka pointed out, it’s happening so why spend the cash when there may later be enforcement costs. However, the bulk of council felt it was an opportunity to move forward.
The survey closed in November 2021 with 88 respondents.
Of them, 46 reported using no single-use plastic on site, while 22 reported using plastic bags. Only three reported using plastic straws and styrofoam containers, with four using foam cups. Plastic cutlery (six), drink cups (six) and take out containers (seven) are also in use.
Some comments noted COVID-19 precautions are a key reason for plastic use, with 11 out of 42 respondents saying use is as a direct result or they’re unsure.
The cost of moving forward with a bylaw includes dedication of staff time in corporate services, communications and bylaw. Staff suggested corporate and bylaw could be incorporated within existing capacity, but anticipated education and awareness may need additional support, likely less than $5,000 that could be funded through the communications budget.
Committee also opted to put off developing a bylaw for other single-use plastics and awaits federal government work. Late last year, Canada released proposed regulations for the manufacture, import and sale of six categories: checkout bags, cutlery, food service ware made from or containing problematic plastics as well as ring carriers, stir sticks and straws (with certain exceptions). Full implementation is expected by 2024.
Find the report and business survey results on the Jan. 17 committee agenda at oakbay.civicweb.net.
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