Victoria could be moving ahead with a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags that will fine businesses a minimum of $100 for selling or providing such bags. The communities of Squamish and Whistler may also revisit the idea of a ban.

Victoria’s council is expected to adopt the bylaw in early January and, if approved would take effect in July. The ban does allow use of bags for items like prescriptions and dry cleaning.

Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman says they will look closely at Victoria’s ban so that they can learn from their experience. She says plastic bags are insidious and that we should find a solution to the issue.

Squamish’s Council looked at the issue several years ago and according to Heintzman legal opinions at the time suggested local government may not have the authority to impose such a ban. The Mayor says that instead, work has been done throughout the community to encourage reusable bags; “In light of the City of Victoria’s proposed bylaw, our Sustainability Coordinator will look at bringing some analysis and recommendations to Council for our discussion as part of the District’s Zero Waste initiative, as we look to evaluate how best to move forward”.

Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden says that although she has not talked to Council since Victoria announced the ban, “its coming back as a topic of conversation around town”. Whistler has discussed a ban in the past but the Mayor says they were; “convinced by the retail sector not to do that because of the three million visitors we have every year. Even now most people don’t travel with reusable bags”. Instead the Alliance of Grocery and Drug stores in Whistler suggested a plastic bag fee, that was introduced in 2015. The Alliance reported that plastic bag use dropped by nearly half a year later.

Wilhelm-Morden says they have not met with the retail sector about the issue lately but suspects they will, “now that it has become a topic of conversation again”.

Montreal, QC has announced they will ban single-use plastic bags in 2018 and other cities in the country such as Fort McMurray, AB have already had a ban in place for years.


Filed under: District of Squamish, Plastic Bag Ban, RMOW, Sea to Sky, Squamish, Victoria, Whistler