Campbell River Aquarium manager Ricky Belanger, volunteer Roleen Sevillena and staff member Isaak Haberman gathered up several bags of garbage from the shore on June 8, World Oceans Day. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

EDITORIAL: Keep riding the anti-plastic wave

Island is ground-zero for ocean-plastic problem

Worlds Oceans Day events were held this past week, and in Parksville, Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns participated in a beach cleanup.

Johns says Vancouver Island is “ground zero” of the ocean plastics crisis.

Discussions regarding ocean plastics and marine debris are being noticed elsewhere such as Ottawa, Johns said, and noted it was to be part of the discussions at the G7 Summit this past weekend.

But just because the plastics problem is being noticed elsewhere, it doesn’t mean that Island residents are turning a blind eye to the ocean plastics issue.

A number of municipalities and communities on the Island such as Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Tofino, Nanaimo and Victoria have been pushing forward with motions on the banning of single-use plastic bags or creating reusable bags for residents.

In Parksville Qualicum Beach, local group Communities Protecting Our Coast has been making presentations to both municipal councils and the regional district since early 2017. And it seems like those presentations are working.

The Regional District of Nanaimo’s marine litter resolution “passed at almost 95 per cent support” at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference last week in Halifax, Johns said.

The City of Parksville called for a ban of single-use plastic bags in 2017 and surveyed residents online as to their preference.

At its regular meeting, March 19, Qualicum Beach council passed first reading of a bylaw that would eventually ban the sale or provision of single-use plastic bags in the town. Now one councillor is hoping to do the same with plastic straws within the Town of Qualicum Beach

On the other side of the country, the province of Prince Edward Island became the first in the country to ban businesses handing out plastic bags. The private member’s bill implements an outright ban by 2020.

There are also businesses wanting to be good corporate citizens, amid the movement to address marine pollution. One is IKEA, which announced last week it would eliminate single-use plastic products from its shelves by 2020, including straws, plates, cups, freezer bags, garbage bags and plastic-coated paper plates and cups.

Also last week, A&W Canada said it wanted to be the first fast-food chain in North America to eliminate plastic straws, with a plan to stop using them by the end of the year.

The significant momentum locally and nationally to regulate use of plastics and the impact they have on our landfills and waterways should be viewed as a positive — and it’s a trend that must continue.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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