It’s been a roundabout trip, but the prohibition of single-use plastic shopping bags is making its way back to Salmon Arm.
Back in 2018, council asked city staff to prepare a draft bylaw prohibiting plastic shopping bags.
In June 2019, council adopted a checkout bag regulation bylaw for the city. However, just a month later, the BC Court of Appeal quashed the City of Victoria’s single use plastics bylaw. It ruled that municipalities must receive approval from the provincial environment ministry before adopting one.
Because Salmon Arm didn’t get ministerial approval prior to adoption, its bylaw became unenforceable. However, many businesses and residents in Salmon Ann continued to use reusable bags and other alternatives.
In July 2021, the province amended the community charter to allow local governments to ban single-use plastics, including plastic checkout bags, without approval of the ministry, city staff reported.
Then, enter COVID-19. Although the BC Centre for Disease Control has since said it is safe to use reusable bags, many people used single-use plastic bags to limit any possible transmission of the virus.
“Staff have worked with the Ministry of Environment staff to ensure the proposed bylaw meets the provisions for local government to regulate single use plastics,” stated a staff report at council’s Dec. 13 meeting.
The bylaw will come into effect on July 1, 2022, in order to allow businesses to readjust and use their supply of plastic bags as well as acquiring reusable bag options.
“This item has been around the block, so to speak,” remarked Erin Jackson, the city’s acting chief administrative officer.
She said there will be an education blitz which has already started with the help of Salmon Arm Economic Development.
Coun. Tim Lavery responded.
“It indeed has been around the block,” he said, and addressed Mayor Alan Harrison.
“You’re the one that put it on the block in the first place and followed through,” he said, thanking Harrison for his leadership.
Harrison said the community is ready for the prohibition and supports it, and retailers have been terrific. He said July 1 will give them a little time to readjust and educate their customers.
“I have every confidence, come July 1st, even before, many will be using reusable bags.”
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