The City of Colwood is considering banning plastic bags starting next year.
Monday night council passed a checkout bag regulation bylaw through its first and second readings. Council plans to consult the public and Colwood businesses to see if any changes to the bylaw need to be made before third reading.
“This is a great first step,” said Colwood Mayor Rob Martin.
Martin said he has always been supportive of the plastic bag ban and said he thinks this will help lead to long-term environmental solutions in Colwood.
The city first looked at banning the bags in 2017 and considered following the CRD’s single use plastic bag model bylaw and the City of Victoria’s check-out bag regulation bylaw.
However, the Canadian Plastic Bag Association filed a B.C. Supreme Court petition challenging the right of the City of Victoria to ban plastic bags.
In 2018, Colwood council decided to put the bylaw on hold until the Supreme Court challenge outcome was known. In June, 2018, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition but the Canadian Plastic Bag Association filed an appeal.
Despite the appeal, the City of Colwood can still proceed with adopting the bylaw and re-visit it depending on the B.C. Court of Appeal hearing.
Martin said he anticipates fine-tuning of the bylaw will be required after public consultation.
“Change is always difficult and obviously people are working to try and provide the best service they can to their customers,” Martin said. “Up until this point we have viewed plastic bags as the best way to serve customers.”
However, Martin said things seem to be changing as more people are using their own re-usable bags to shop.
“There’s been a societal change I think,” Martin said. “Something as simple as charging someone five cents for a bag really motivates people to bring their own bag.”
At the meeting, Martin said Couns. Doug Kobayashi and Michael Baxter both raised the point that plastic bags are not the No. 1 issue when it comes to plastics being in the environment.
Baxter said he does support the plastic bag ban in order to help reduce waste.
“Our landfill is filling up and nobody has any idea what we’re going to do once it’s full,” Baxter said. “Anything we can do to reduce stuff going in the landfill is good.”
Martin said he has heard the argument from residents that plastic bags are not single-use for them because they use them for their garbage at home. However, he noted that the city needs to start looking long-term in order to maintain its health and environment.
“This is a small step in us being environmentally sound as a community,” Martin said. “We have to look at all sorts of products that we’re using as a society that are disposable and thrown away after single use…we need to start looking at some of those other environmental costs.”