Saanich plans to phase out single use plastic bags following committee review

Saanich plans to stuff plastic bags

Two committees will now review the proposed ban prior to council consideration

Saanich is moving towards banning single-use plastic bags.

“This is an important step,” said Coun. Susan Brice, before council voted to send a bylaw to said effect to two committees for review prior to council consideration. “It is certainly not the end. It is the beginning of a dialogue and an engagement that will have to involve the greater community, because that what [Capital Regional District] staff found has been successful in other cities where there has been broad buy-in and broad engagement from all the stakeholders.”

Saanich’s proposed bylaw which envisions phasing out plastic bags will now go before to the environment and natural areas advisory committee, as well as the planning, transportation and economic development advisory committee for input and public engagement.

Brice — who had tabled a notice a motion last month – said interest in banning 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. In a way, the proposed ban builds on the “exemplary work” of retailers, who have been trying to “wean” the public off this “handy, but environmentally deleterious” product.

Brice’s colleagues praised her efforts in citing the various environmental harm that plastic bags cause.

“This is not draconian,” said Coun. Colin Plant, pointing to various exemptions. “This is a step in the right direction.”

Coun. Fred Haynes praised the proposed ban, but added that he would like to see Saanich go further in eventually eliminating said exemptions. The model bylaw — that will be the basis of Saanich’s bylaw — allows plastic bags for the hygenic storage of bulk items such as fruit, vegetables and nuts, as well as frozen foods, meat or fish.

Historically, merchants used to wrap food in paper, said Haynes. “That’s an appropriate way to go in the future, but we aren’t ready yet,” he said.

The report also fails to address other kinds of plastics. “Eventually, they will come,” he said.

Coun. Dean Murdock and Coun. Judy Brownoff meanwhile predicted that Saanich’s move will send an example for other communities to follow.

The time-frame of Saanich’s move remains uncertain. Plant hoped that Saanich council could approve the ban by end of its term.