When it comes to restricting the use of single-use plastic shopping bags and plastic straws, Ucluelet’s new mayor Mayco Noël wants to see the whole West Coast peninsula singing the same tune, he said during Tuesday’s regular municipal council meeting.
“It’s one of those things we’ve talked about regionally. We are not re-inventing the wheel here. We know that it needs to be done,” said mayor Noël.
In May 2018 during a regular council meeting, a delegation from Surfrider Pacific Rim Chapter and the Ucluelet Aquarium requested that the District implement a bylaw banning plastic bags. At that same meeting, Council adopted a resolution to refer the City of Victoria’s Plastic Bylaw to staff for review and to report back to Council on what would be appropriate for Ucluelet.
At Tuesday’s meeting, after an amendment from mayor Noël to include plastic straws in the draft bylaw, councillor Jennifer Hoar directed staff to co-ordinate with the District of Ucluelet, Surfrider Pacific Rim chapter, and the Ucluelet Aquarium in developing the proposed bylaw to restrict the distribution of single-use plastic shopping bags and plastic straws.
Tofino council passed a similar motion in June 2018 with the aim to implement the plastic bag bylaw by January 1, 2019 and provide a six-month transition to enforcement beginning July 1, 2019.
Ucluelet’s timeline for adopting the single-use shopping bag and plastic straws bylaw is marked for June 2019, with enforcement taking place in January 2020.
Surfrider Pacific Rim chapter manager Lilly Woodbury said a bylaw restricting plastic bags and straws in 2019 is massive for the growth of the West Coast’s environmental leadership.
“These items are some of the most used single-use plastics across the planet, which continue to condemn the health of the oceans. We see this as a major step towards regulating all single use plastics on the Pacific Rim, working towards creating an Ocean Friendly Corridor that is single use plastic free between Ucluelet and Tofino,” said Woodbury.
Ucluelet’s largest distributor of single-use plastic bags, the Ucluelet Co-op, eliminated the plastic bag option for customers in June 2017.
Surfrider launched a Straws Suck campaign in Ucluelet, which finished on Worlds Oceans Day, June 8, 2018. Most Ucluelet businesses now offer compostable or reuseable straws upon request, notes Woodbury.