Saanich will follow Victoria in banning single-use plastic bags, but Coun. Colin Plant says Saanich could move faster.

Plastic bags to be banned in Saanich by June 2020

Council approved the timeline that clears a path for Saanich to follow Victoria’s ban of single-use plastic bags

Saanich will follow Victoria in banning single-use plastic bags by June 2020, but one councillor would like to see Saanich move faster.

“That’s 22 months away,” said Coun. Colin Plant. “This a little bit slower than I prefer. We could have been more ambitious.”

He made these comments Monday as council approved a timeline that clears the path for Saanich follow Victoria’s ban of single-use plastic bags.

RELATED: Victoria first B.C. municipality to adopt plastic bag ban

Under the proposed timeline, Saanich council would give its bylaw first and second reading in January of 2019.

Consultations with the public and industry would then take place until April 2019, with council set to give the bylaw third reading by May.

Council would adopt the bylaw in June with an effective date in December 2019. Businesses would then have until June 2020 to use up the remaining plastic bags.

RELATED: Plastic bag ban on Saanich council table

While Plant shied away from amending the proposed time line, he wondered why Saanich hesitated to follow Victoria, whose bylaw came into effect July 1.

Coun. Susan Brice said the proposed time line gives the incoming council a workable schedule, and Coun. Dean Murdock said the incoming council could always speed up the process.

Saanich’s push to ban single-use plastic bags picked up again after B.C.’s highest court ruled in favour of Victoria’s plastic bag ban.

The Canadian Plastic Bag Association had claimed the ban would “significantly impact” its members who manufacture and supply bags for the Victoria market, and lobbied against the move in January. But the court found otherwise.

Unless staff find any specific local issues, any future bylaw banning single-use plastic bags in Saanich would likely follow the central elements of Victoria’s bylaw, because of the many connections between both communities, as many businesses operate in both municipalities, while many residents shop across municipal borders.

Brice had first proposed banning single-use plastic bags in September 2017. While these efforts gained steam throughout the fall of 2017, council voted in February 2018 to hold off with further action until after the Victoria bylaw had passed legal muster.

Brice said last year support for the ban of single-use plastic bags has been building for many years across the Greater Victoria region thanks to the work of students like Charlotte Brady and Anastasia Castro of Glenlyon Norfolk School who have been pushing for such a ban.

Public thinking has very much shifted against plastics including plastic bags and developments are reaching a tipping point, she said. While single-use plastic bags are easy to use, residents and businesses have already been turning away from them because of their environmental effects.

While it is not clear how many single-use plastic bags currently circulate through Saanich, the number is likely high.

Greener Footprints, a not-for-profit society registered in British Columbia, estimates that Canadians use up to 15 billion bags every year, or about 17,000 bags a minute. Naturally, many will end up in local landfills.

Scientists have also blamed single-use plastic bag for a long list of harmful effects.

They include the death of sea birds, sea mammals and fish. Single-use plastic bags have also received criticism for contributing to climate change by using non-renewable hydro-carbons. Finally, scientists have linked the central chemical compound in the manufacturing of plastic bags, Bisphenol A – or BPA – with pregnancy problems, prostate problems and behaviour problems in children.


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