Parksville to explore plastic bag ban

Council approves public survey to gauge interest

With the banning of plastic shopping bags at point-of-sale locations a hot topic locally, one Parksville councillor wants to let the community have its say on the matter.

“When I campaigned to be on council, one of the things I said was that I would listen to the public before I made any decisions,” Coun. Kirk Oates said at council’s regular meeting Sept. 18. “I see this as something that’s going to come on our radar sooner than later. I wouldn’t mind taking the temperature of the public on what their thoughts are on a city-wide ban on the use of plastic bags.”

The Town of Qualicum Beach is working through a motion, brought by Coun. Anne Skipsey, to ban all plastic, point-of-sale shopping bags in the town.

RELATED: Qualicum Beach staff to create education program on eliminating plastic bags

Oates did not call for a ban, but submitted a motion directing city staff to undertake a public consulation process “through an online survey and social media” to get feedback from both residents and businesses in Parksville on the idea of a plastic bag ban.

Deb Tardiff, the city’s communications director, told The NEWS a survey is expected to be available on the city’s website beginning in October. No length of time was specified for the survey to run.

The Parksville & District Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, wasted no time, uploading its own online survey for members and businesses the day after Oates’ motion was unanimously approved.

The chamber’s executive director, Kim Burden, is also a member of Parksville’s city council.

While Oates’ motion was approved unanimously, it did raise questions at the table.

Noting it did not specifically address point-of-sale grocery bags, Coun. Mary Beil asked whether the survey language might include language on how a prospective ban might be implemented.

“I’m concerned there could be different interpretations of what that might look like.”

Which was exactly Oates’ point, he said.

“I’m simply proposing an avenue for the public to give their input on the notion of a city-wide ban on plastic bags,” he said. “Any information the public would need to make that decision, I trust them to find that for themselves, as opposed to somebody providing them information that has a vested interest or a particular decision they’ve pre-determined.”

Beil replied that she had no objection to gathering information from the public.

“I would like to see the addition that this be plastic bags at point of sale,” she said. “I’m concerned that if it’s just left as ‘plastic bags,’ people may feel this applies to everything. And I don’t think that’s generally how that’s applied in other areas where it’s proposed.”