Delta waiting on province when it comes to plastic bag ban

The City of Delta is taking steps to reduce the use of single-use plastic items at civic facilities but isn’t going to introduce a bylaw to ban plastic bags unless the province gives the go-ahead.

Seaquam Secondary students Carroll Gao, Rayne Inkster and Ashley Meagher gave a presentation to council last week on their “Ban the Bag Delta” campaign.

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Having also made a presentation to city’s community livability advisory committee this summer, they noted there are at least three alternatives to plastic bags, including bio-degradable bags, paper bags and reusable bags. Wanting the city to implement a plastic ban bag, they noted such ban won’t be easy as it requires a change in people’s behaviour.

A staff report noted local governments, including Delta, have been lobbying senior levels of government for action given the uncertainty regarding municipal jurisdiction to regulate single-use plastics. There has recently been announcements by the federal and provincial governments indicating actions would be taken to reduce the number of single-use items, so staff recommended support for actions identified in the province’s Plastics Action Plan: Policy Consultation Paper, including reducing single-use plastics at Delta’s facilities and community events.

“Given the recent attention to this issue at the federal and provincial level, it appears as though a coordinated approach, including province-wide regulations, is now likely. During discussion at the committee meeting, the benefits of a coordinated approach to regulating single-use items was noted. The example of Scott Road in North Delta was provided where businesses across the street from each other could potentially have different regulations related to single-use items if managed by municipal bylaws,” the report notes.

The report also explained the City of Victoria’s bylaw banning plastic bags was successfully challenged in court by the Canadian Plastic Bag Association, which claimed the city did not have the jurisdiction to prohibit plastic bags or the authority to regulate the environment, which is provincial jurisdiction.

The Delta report notes the province is now reviewing the decision and recognizes that local governments need clarity on their authority.

“It is expected that new provincial policy and regulatory amendments will be introduced later this year. At that time, it is anticipated that there will be more certainty on the level of regulation of single-use items by the province along with local government's authority in this regard.”

Council endorsed the staff recommendations but also agreed with a motion by Coun. Lois Jackson to request the provincial government allow Delta to move forward with a pilot project to ban plastic bags.

The District of West Vancouver submitted a resolution at this month’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention asking the province to enter into an agreement with cities that want to regulate single-use plastic items.

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