Chef Ian Riddick posed for this shot in 2016 to passionately pledge his allegiance to Surfrider Pacific Rim’s ‘Straws Suck’ initiative that saw local businesses voluntarily cease serving plastic straws to customers. Tofino is now ready to declare an official ban. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Tofino casts bylaw banning plastic bags and straws

Tofino and Ucluelet’s war on plastics rages on.

The West Coast’s war on single-use plastics rages on.

Tofino has taken a significant step towards banning plastic bags and straws as the town’s council unanimously supported a draft bylaw that would prohibit all businesses from selling or providing plastic bags or single-use straws and set a minimum retail price of 25 cents for paper bags and $2 for reusable bags.

“We’re trying to avoid the rebound to excessive paper and reusable bags by adding a minimum price,” explained Tofino’s manager of corporate services Elyse Goatcher-Bergmann during a presentation to council on Feb. 26. “Fees are a disincentive. That is what we’re using them for in this case. We’re using them as a disincentive to over-consuming bags.”

District staff have been working on the draft bylaw since receiving direction from council to look into a single-use plastic ban last year.

READ MORE: Tofino working on bylaw to restrict single-use plastics

Goatcher-Bergmann noted the City of Victoria moved ahead with plastic bag legislation last year, which initially withstood a court challenge but is now under appeal.

She said Qualicum Beach and Parksville have also looked into bag bans, but only Victoria has one in place so far on Vancouver Island. She added that no communities currently have a plastic straw ban in place.

READ MORE: Parksville council won’t ban single-use plastic bags

“The issue that we’ve defined for us is the accumulation of plastic, especially single use plastic, products entering municipal waste streams, or escaping that waste stream and then entering the environment where they break down into small, unrecoverable pieces,” she said.

“Both of these impacts have a risk to the municipality in that they are accumulating in our solid waste systems as well as on our beaches, rivers and streets so there’s an impact either way.”

She said the West Coast landfill is currently estimated to reach its capacity in 2068.

“Plastics are the third largest component of our residential waste on the coast,” she said adding organics and paper are the top two,” she said. “The regulatory approach that we’re taking is not just a ban, but also a minimum price on paper and reusable bags…They’re obviously not very recyclable at the end of life so they just end up in our waste streams as well.”

She said Tofino has been in contact with Ucluelet to take a regional approach on plastics and ensure consistent laws across the peninsula and added that the district has received resounding support from the community on the proposed ban.

“For many people, a ban on these certain items represents a change that they’re willing and waiting for,” she said.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Surfrider’s Stitch’n’Beach program earns $10K prize

She said biodegradable and compostable plastic bags would be included in the ban because, “These materials contaminate existing recycling streams and do not adequately decompose in a landfill or the environment.”

There would be exceptions under the proposed bylaw, however, as it stipulates paper or plastic may be used: “to package loose bulk items; contain or wrap fresh or frozen meat, poultry or fish; wrap flowers; protect baked goods and non-packaged foods; contain prescription drugs; or contain large items that cannot easily fit into a reusable bag.”

With council’s unanimous support in hand, district staff will now further consult with businesses around other potential exceptions from the ban and hear feedback on the suggested retail price for both paper and reusable bags.

Goatcher-Bergmann suggested the ban would be preceded by a roughly six-month educational campaign and implementation period with enforcement beginning in 2020.

“This is a big shift. I know that a lot of people are doing this already, but we do have quite a lot of work to do to make sure this is implemented well,” she said.

READ MORE: Surfrider winning war on plastic bags in Tofino

READ MORE: Tofino declines request for plastic straw ban

READ MORE: Ucluelet businesses pour into Straws Suck movement



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Stepping away from the ordinary

Freelance writer Marcie Callewaert talks about her self-isolation in Ahousaht

Tofino-Ucluelet choir conductor launches singing contest

“What motivates me is making my community happy.”

Vancouver Island farmers demand on-site slaughter

COVID-19 pandemic puts supply chains at risk, says group

COVID 19: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, other First Nations mobilize resources

Some Indigenous communities are enacting emergency measures to cope during pandemic

Tofino and Ucluelet distilleries step up with hand sanitizer

Mass supply delivered to emergency operation centres in Tofino, Ucluelet, Bamfield and Port Alberni.

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Quarantined B.C. mom say pandemic has put special-needs families in ‘crisis mode’

Surrey’s Christine Williams shares family’s challenges, strengths

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Two arrested after man lies about COVID-19 illness to stay in Victoria Airbnb for free

Victoria Police found stolen goods inside the occupied unit

Most Read