Chef Ian Riddick posed for this shot in 2016 to passionately pledge his allegiance to Surfrider Pacific Rim’s ‘Straws Suck’ initiative that saw local businesses voluntarily cease serving plastic straws to customers. Tofino is now ready to declare an official ban. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Tofino to ban plastic bags, set minimum charge for paper and reusable bags

Town says minimum pricing aims to avoid excessive rebound to paper and reusable bags

The West Coast’s war on single-use plastics rages on.

Tofino has taken a significant step towards banning plastic bags and straws as the town’s council unanimously supported a draft bylaw that would prohibit all businesses from selling or providing plastic bags or single-use straws and set a minimum retail price of 25 cents for paper bags and $2 for reusable bags.

“We’re trying to avoid the rebound to excessive paper and reusable bags by adding a minimum price,” explained Tofino’s manager of corporate services Elyse Goatcher-Bergmann during a presentation to council on Feb. 26. “Fees are a disincentive. That is what we’re using them for in this case. We’re using them as a disincentive to over-consuming bags.”

District staff have been working on the draft bylaw since receiving direction from council to look into a single-use plastic ban last year.

READ MORE: Tofino working on bylaw to restrict single-use plastics

Goatcher-Bergmann noted the City of Victoria moved ahead with plastic bag legislation last year, which initially withstood a court challenge but is now under appeal.

She said Qualicum Beach and Parksville have also looked into bag bans, but only Victoria has one in place so far on Vancouver Island. She added that no communities currently have a plastic straw ban in place.

READ MORE: Parksville council won’t ban single-use plastic bags

“The issue that we’ve defined for us is the accumulation of plastic, especially single use plastic, products entering municipal waste streams, or escaping that waste stream and then entering the environment where they break down into small, unrecoverable pieces,” she said.

“Both of these impacts have a risk to the municipality in that they are accumulating in our solid waste systems as well as on our beaches, rivers and streets so there’s an impact either way.”

She said the West Coast landfill is currently estimated to reach its capacity in 2068.

“Plastics are the third largest component of our residential waste on the coast,” she said adding organics and paper are the top two,” she said. “The regulatory approach that we’re taking is not just a ban, but also a minimum price on paper and reusable bags…They’re obviously not very recyclable at the end of life so they just end up in our waste streams as well.”

She said Tofino has been in contact with Ucluelet to take a regional approach on plastics and ensure consistent laws across the peninsula and added that the district has received resounding support from the community on the proposed ban.

“For many people, a ban on these certain items represents a change that they’re willing and waiting for,” she said.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Surfrider’s Stitch’n’Beach program earns $10K prize

She said biodegradable and compostable plastic bags would be included in the ban because, “These materials contaminate existing recycling streams and do not adequately decompose in a landfill or the environment.”

There would be exceptions under the proposed bylaw, however, as it stipulates paper or plastic may be used: “to package loose bulk items; contain or wrap fresh or frozen meat, poultry or fish; wrap flowers; protect baked goods and non-packaged foods; contain prescription drugs; or contain large items that cannot easily fit into a reusable bag.”

With council’s unanimous support in hand, district staff will now further consult with businesses around other potential exceptions from the ban and hear feedback on the suggested retail price for both paper and reusable bags.

Goatcher-Bergmann suggested the ban would be preceded by a roughly six-month educational campaign and implementation period with enforcement beginning in 2020.

“This is a big shift. I know that a lot of people are doing this already, but we do have quite a lot of work to do to make sure this is implemented well,” she said.

READ MORE: Surfrider winning war on plastic bags in Tofino

READ MORE: Tofino declines request for plastic straw ban

READ MORE: Ucluelet businesses pour into Straws Suck movement



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Margaret Atwood coming to UVic to discuss ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ sequel

‘The Testaments’ comes 34 years after release of famous novel, now a Hulu series

EDITORIAL: Summer camp offers a return to imagination

Put down the phone and unleash the potential within yourself

Indonesian artist coming for Quadra Island residency

Ipong Purnama Sidhi will arrive this week for one month stay with two local artists

B.C. group on the hunt for Cadboro Bay sea monster

British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club investigating reports of Cadborosaurus

Kelowna RCMP interrogation video brings home reality in ‘visceral way’: former TRC chairman

Video of Mountie interrogating young Indigenous woman disclosing sexual abuse under fire

RCMP arrest violent offender on Vancouver Island

Campbell River police struggle with suspect and take him down with a taser

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Canadian killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Former B.C. Greyhound bus drivers head to Penticton for goodbye party

Big bash runs until Sunday, funded by drink cans left behind on busses over the years

Boy, 12, arrested after allegedly pulling a knife on another child at a Surrey park

The child was later released into his parents’ custody as Surrey RCMP continue their investigation

Most Read