Gillian Montgomery (left) and Annie Gibson (right) of Vancouver Island Surfrider Foundation hold a mountain of plastic bags tied to a suit they brought to the Victoria City Hall Thursday afternoon when council discussed a staff report about council’s proposed plastic bag ban. Council will consider a draft plastic ban bylaw no later than December 2017. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Victoria moves for regional plastic bag ban

Victoria bylaw to be considered by December fines businesses for providing plastic bags

Plastic bags may soon be a thing of the past in Victoria.

Victoria City Council is considering a ban on the sale and distribution of plastic bags by Victoria businesses, and will be reviewing a draft bylaw by December. Businesses must first ask customers if they need a bag, and then charge 12 cents for a paper bag, or two dollars for a reusable one in the first draft of the law. Bags to package bulk food, prescriptions and dry cleaning are exempt. Businesses that charge less for a paper or reusable bags, that sell or provide plastic bags, or give any bag without first asking will be fined $100.

But the City doesn’t want to tackle this alone. Council is sending a letter to the CRD and neighbouring municipalities hoping for some consistency and regional support. A letter is also being sent to the provincial government.

RELATED: Saanich councillor wants to stuff plastic bags

Coun. Geoff Young said having other municipalities on board will make it easier to enforce, and easier for people to adapt.

“I think there will be some people who express a negative reaction to [the law] and may decide they want to shop in another municipality,” he said. “It is certainly going to be a lot easier to implement this if we can have one information campaign for the entire region.”

Young said a ban will mean people need to form new habits and change their lifestyles.

RELATED: Surf group winning the war on plastic bags

“Trying to force it on people is just going to be very difficult. It’s like the requirements to pick up after dogs or to not smoke in bars,” he said. “They were fairly major changes in people’s behaviours, and they were achieved, but it was because there was broad public support.”

Carolyn Whittaker of the Vancouver Island Surfrider Foundation attended the Committee of the Whole meeting Thursday and heard staff’s presentation on ideas for the new bylaw, and was satisfied with what she heard.

“I’m happy with the outcome [but] I wish it was happening faster because I feel like everybody is on board and everyone’s on the same page, and we all know what needs to be done,” she said.

“While we wait, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of bags are still continuing to end up in the wrong place and in the way streams.”

The City is seeking feedback on draft bylaw, which would come into effect July 1, 2018.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

RELATED: Central Saanich takes first step toward plastic bag ban

RELATED: Victoria council mulls plastic bag ban

City of Victoria

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Carolyn Whittaker, a member of the Vancouver Island Surfrider Foundation, holds up the purple reusable bag she takes with her everywhere outside Victoria Council chambers Thursday afternoon. More Victorians will be carrying reusable bags if the City approves of bylaw banning plastic bags in December. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

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