Single-use plastic checkout bags will not be banned in Parksville.
City council quashed a proposed bylaw at third reading during a Feb. 20 regular council meeting, with Coun. Adam Fras the only member in support of the ban.
Mayor Ed Mayne said he believes jurisdiction around single-use plastic bags would be better handled by the federal and provincial governments.
“I have a real problem with city council getting involved in issues not pertaining to the city, as soon as you do this you’re opening up a can of worms… where does it stop?” Mayne said. “My view on this is if it was a major issue then the feds and the provincial governments need to take action, not municipalities. I’m going to be voting against this particular bylaw.”
Coun. Al Greir also believes it’s not council’s mandate to get involved in “private enterprise.”
“I will not support this bag bylaw,” Greir said. “I think we have to be careful about special interest groups and I think these types of laws should come from federally or provincially. I don’t think it comes under our mandate to support this.”
Fras said he believes single-use plastic bans are going to spread across the country and around the world in attempts to curb ocean pollution.
Coun. Doug O’Brien questioned whether single-use plastic bags are just that. He said he didn’t agree with the single-use term because “a lot of households actually use them to pack up their garbage.”
He added that during discussions with business owners in the Parksville area, specifically a hardware store owner, he learned of their need to use single-use plastic.
“[The owner] has plastic single-use bags because he’s regulated by the federal health agency that anytime he sells pesticides or herbicides he has to package it in a plastic bag so it doesn’t contaminate anything else,” O’Brien said. “What is the end goal… by banning plastic bags in Parksville? I’m not really sure what it is.”
O’Brien said he walks near the ocean every day in Parksville and has never noticed any plastic pollution.
“We don’t have a problem here,” he said. “At this time I will not support a plastic bag ban in Parksville.”
Coun. Mark Chandler said he believes the decision to use or not use a plastic bag at checkout should be up to the consumers.
“I notice a lot that people (cashiers) are asking if we want bags and they’re charging us five cents for a bag,” Chandler said. “I think there’s a lot of self-policing out there. I think we need to let people work on that themselves.”
Coun. Marilyn Wilson said she has struggled with the issue of a ban in Parksville and suggested it would be a good idea to hold an educational campaign. She also agreed the decision should be left to the consumer.
“Some of the stores sell paper bags, they sell recyclable bags, so I think we need to leave it in the hands of the consumer right now to be guided by their own initiative to curb the use of these bags. We can always revisit another bylaw down the road if we feel it necessary,” she said.
Qualicum Beach town council are slated to discuss a single-use plastic bag ban for the town at their Feb. 25 regular meeting.