Plastic Grocery Bags Could Soon be Banned

Robert Thomas

Single-use plastic bags could fast become a thing of the past if a group of young residents' initiative pays off.

Speaking to Executive Committee, the Youth Advisory Committee gave a Power Point visual presentation of their discussion and research into eliminating single use plastic bags.
Rachel Butt said the youth advisory group was involved in "relevant issues and what's important to our committee."

The presentation showed plastic bags littering the fences surrounding the landfill.

One major issue regarding plastic bags is that China is no longer accepting them for recycling and Davidson has, in response to Loraas not wanting them, imposed restrictions.

The presentation called for a potential ban or restrictions on retailers using them.

The experience of the County of Wood Buffalo in Alberta, which includes Fort Murray, where single-use plastic bags are not allowed was discussed.

Retailers in that County are assessed escalating fines for using single-use plastic bags.

Additionally, there has been a push for reusable options and a multi-use bag.

Following the presentation, Councillor Brian Swanson expressed his concerns with the motion the committee was asking for, to restrict and impose bans on bags without consultation.

"Have you spoken with the commercial properties who use those? I would think before that to discuss with the commercial properties this applies an intermediary step have some discussion with Safeway, Co-op or Superstore," Coun Swanson stated.

Councillor Don Mitchell said it was an issue that went beyond Moose Jaw but had worldwide implications.

"People are aware, to some degree, of the plastic problem and I think the retail industry is recognizing that...they are putting charges on one-time use plastic bags," Coun Mitchell said.

He called for a project task group including administration, the environmental committee, youth advisory committee and business community to work on the issue.

"I would like to see a follow-up on this. It is a priority. Just to refer it to Administration gives them no direction."

From the gallery, Lucas Dyck stood up and clarified the Youth Advisory Committee's role.

"We are not trying to offer concrete solutions just to let them know this is an issue. We want to work together on this," Dyck said.

Mayor Frasier Tolmie took the opportunity to call for further discussion on the matter.

"What's being said around this table here is collaboration," Mayor Tolmie said.

Councillor Chris Warren spoke about the issue being topical and how Canada was set to introduce a Plastics Charter at the upcoming G7 conference in Quebec.

"There's a lot of movement on this and I support that but I want to make sure we speak to the various stakeholders."

Mayor Tolmie stated that City Manager Jim Puffalt had agreed to help facilitate the conversation.

In the end, with a vote of 6-1 vote, with Coun Swanson opposed, the Executive Committee agreed to a consultation process and tabled the motion by the Youth Advisory Committee seeking to ban retailers from using single-use plastic bags.