Nanaimo votes to ban plastic bags

City councillors voted in favour of banning the bags on Monday, but staff have yet to determine whether or not they have the authority to impose a ban.

Receiving a plastic bag from retailers in Nanaimo could soon be a thing of the past.

Nanaimo city councillors voted in favour of banning the bags during a special council meeting on Monday night. However, a ban won’t take place until city staff can determine whether or not the municipality has the authority to impose one. Staff are expected to report back to council as soon as possible, but no concrete timeline was provided during Monday’s meeting.

The vote followed a presentation to council by Denis Hughes, Kirily Park and Paul Manly, who urged councillors to consider a levy on single-use plastic bags from retailers within the city. They cited studies that highlighted a range of environmental damage caused by plastic bags. The trio also recommended a gradual approach, by implementing a levy and then eventually moving to a full-scale ban.

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There was discussion about the scope of a potential ban from councillors, who wondered whether it should extend beyond single-use plastic bags. Councillors also debated about whether or not they had the authority to impose or implement a ban or levy. Staff members were unable to immediately provide an answer to councillors, who elected to go ahead with the vote.

Plastic bag bans have been imposed in a number of municipalities in Canada, including Thompson, Man., Brossard, Que., and Wood Buffalo Regional Municipality, Alta. Victoria and Saanich are also considering bans and Montreal is expected to implement a plastic bag ban on retailers next year. In Kenya, using, producing or selling plastic bags can result in prison time and fines of more than $20,000 according to the New York Times.

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