The decision to ban single-use plastic bags represents a “small but important step” towards Saanich’s becoming a more sustainable community, says Acting Mayor Coun. Colin Plant.
“Saanich has declared a climate emergency and this is a small but important step toward becoming more sustainable, reducing waste and respecting our natural environment,” said Plant in an official release announcing final adoption of the bylaw. “Saanich has been a beautiful community for generations and we want to ensure we’re doing everything we can to protect our environment for the future and reduce the negative impact that discarded plastic bags have on municipal facilities and services.”
Businesses in Saanich hand out single-use plastic bags worth $22.8 million each year, according to a staff estimate released earlier this year.
The bylaw itself comes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, a year before a proposed ban of single-use plastics on the federal level, a move supported by Plant.
I welcome this initiative because rather than relying on local govts or provincial bodies, it will be a national initiative. On this issue consistency is important.#Canada to ban single-use plastics in 2021 https://t.co/2g65XVyKhI#Saanich
— Colin Plant (@ColinPlant2018) June 10, 2019
Notwithstanding exceptions for specific types of goods, such as fruit, vegetables and meat among others, Saanich’s bylaw prohibits businesses from selling or supplying customers with single-use plastic bags; prohibits businesses from supplying customers with reusable or paper bags free of charge (unless already used), and requires businesses to charge a minimum of 15 cents for a paper bag and $1 for a reusable bag, going up to 25 cents and $2 following a year-long transition period.
The introduction of the bylaw includes a transition phase of six months during which the municipality will roll out various public education activities. Saanich will begin issuing fines, as required, starting in July 2020, under Section 4 of the bylaw.
The basic fine for various violations of the proposed bylaw is $75 if paid within 30 days, $100 after that.
Environmentalists, as well as municipal authorities looking at the bottom line, have argued that the ban would have positive ecological and financial benefits. This said, the public has also heard that the ban could also require additional public resources in terms of enforcement.
Saanich currently lacks the resource to enforce the proposed ban, without harming existing enforcement priorities, said Brent Reems, director of building, bylaw, licensing and legal services, earlier this year.