Chef Ian Riddick posed for this shot in 2016 to passionately pledge his allegiance to Surfrider Pacific Rim’s ‘Straws Suck’ initiative that saw local businesses voluntarily cease serving plastic straws to customers. Tofino is now ready to declare an official ban. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Tofino to ban plastic bags, set minimum charge for paper and reusable bags

Town says minimum pricing aims to avoid excessive rebound to paper and reusable bags

The West Coast’s war on single-use plastics rages on.

Tofino has taken a significant step towards banning plastic bags and straws as the town’s council unanimously supported a draft bylaw that would prohibit all businesses from selling or providing plastic bags or single-use straws and set a minimum retail price of 25 cents for paper bags and $2 for reusable bags.

“We’re trying to avoid the rebound to excessive paper and reusable bags by adding a minimum price,” explained Tofino’s manager of corporate services Elyse Goatcher-Bergmann during a presentation to council on Feb. 26. “Fees are a disincentive. That is what we’re using them for in this case. We’re using them as a disincentive to over-consuming bags.”

District staff have been working on the draft bylaw since receiving direction from council to look into a single-use plastic ban last year.

READ MORE: Tofino working on bylaw to restrict single-use plastics

Goatcher-Bergmann noted the City of Victoria moved ahead with plastic bag legislation last year, which initially withstood a court challenge but is now under appeal.

She said Qualicum Beach and Parksville have also looked into bag bans, but only Victoria has one in place so far on Vancouver Island. She added that no communities currently have a plastic straw ban in place.

READ MORE: Parksville council won’t ban single-use plastic bags

“The issue that we’ve defined for us is the accumulation of plastic, especially single use plastic, products entering municipal waste streams, or escaping that waste stream and then entering the environment where they break down into small, unrecoverable pieces,” she said.

“Both of these impacts have a risk to the municipality in that they are accumulating in our solid waste systems as well as on our beaches, rivers and streets so there’s an impact either way.”

She said the West Coast landfill is currently estimated to reach its capacity in 2068.

“Plastics are the third largest component of our residential waste on the coast,” she said adding organics and paper are the top two,” she said. “The regulatory approach that we’re taking is not just a ban, but also a minimum price on paper and reusable bags…They’re obviously not very recyclable at the end of life so they just end up in our waste streams as well.”

She said Tofino has been in contact with Ucluelet to take a regional approach on plastics and ensure consistent laws across the peninsula and added that the district has received resounding support from the community on the proposed ban.

“For many people, a ban on these certain items represents a change that they’re willing and waiting for,” she said.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Surfrider’s Stitch’n’Beach program earns $10K prize

She said biodegradable and compostable plastic bags would be included in the ban because, “These materials contaminate existing recycling streams and do not adequately decompose in a landfill or the environment.”

There would be exceptions under the proposed bylaw, however, as it stipulates paper or plastic may be used: “to package loose bulk items; contain or wrap fresh or frozen meat, poultry or fish; wrap flowers; protect baked goods and non-packaged foods; contain prescription drugs; or contain large items that cannot easily fit into a reusable bag.”

With council’s unanimous support in hand, district staff will now further consult with businesses around other potential exceptions from the ban and hear feedback on the suggested retail price for both paper and reusable bags.

Goatcher-Bergmann suggested the ban would be preceded by a roughly six-month educational campaign and implementation period with enforcement beginning in 2020.

“This is a big shift. I know that a lot of people are doing this already, but we do have quite a lot of work to do to make sure this is implemented well,” she said.

READ MORE: Surfrider winning war on plastic bags in Tofino

READ MORE: Tofino declines request for plastic straw ban

READ MORE: Ucluelet businesses pour into Straws Suck movement



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

No ‘imminent’ health risks at McLean Mill, says medical health officer

Remediation costs for historic site raises concerns

Port Alberni resident assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

Butterflies released in Port Alberni in memory of loved ones

Alberni Valley Hospice Society hosts fourth annual ‘Butterfly Effect’

Overpass, barrier, more parking considered for Cathedral Grove

Provincial government proceeding ‘with caution’

Ladybird ends undefeated season with Spring League championship

Port Alberni spring basketball league ended after three weeks of playoffs

VIDEO: Tributes flow on 10th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death

Jackson received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009. He died at age 50

Delta cat severely injured in animal trap was likely stuck for days, owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Island Health issues safer drug-use tips ahead of music festival season

Health authority aims to reduce overdose risks at festivals

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Campers hailed heroes in rock face rescue at Vancouver Island provincial park

The campers quickly noticed the man in distress and jumped into the river to swim across.

Tsilhqot’in Nation urges Taseko Mines to stop drilling plans before conflict grows

Nation said Teztan Biny area is of ‘profound cultural and spiritual importance’

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Most Read