The Town of Qualicum Beach council has discussed the issue of banning single-use plastic bags numerous times, and now council and staff is asking the public for its opinion.
Town staff has developed a survey to gauge residents’ and business owners’ feelings about the possibility of banning plastic bags in the town. A report from deputy corporate administrator Haylee Gould states the questions were used from other municipalities that are considering or have implemented a plastic bag ban, including the cities of Parksville and Victoria.
The City of Parksville’s plastic bag ban survey ended Nov. 30.
The survey will be distributed directly to local businesses through the Qualicum Beach Downtown Business Association and the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce.
At the Oct. 23 meeting, council directed staff to work with local advocacy groups to craft and distribute an educational tool for residents and local businesses as a way to garner feedback on how they would like to see the town proceed with single-use plastic bags.
At Monday’s meeting, Coun. Anne Skipsey asked whether or not staff had used the knowledge of those advocacy groups to help with the survey and brochure. Skipsey said the brochure felt a little “weak.”
“Especially when we’re looking at the ‘why’ — the ‘why we’re doing this.’ I think that in order for people to want to change their behaviours and their habits, they have to know why we’re doing this,” Skipsey said.
CAO Daniel Sailland said staff originally planned to bring the survey and public outreach portion out to the public in January, but Sailland said staff didn’t want to potentially lose a month of public outreach by waiting to present it in the new year.
Sailland also said volunteers from advocacy groups would be helping with the survey, and there would be a door-to-door element for the survey.
Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer said he’s heard some feedback that people think the proposed ban is a done deal.
“I think this proposal is sending a message that council has already made that decision,” Luchtmeijer said.
Coun. Neil Horner said he would like to see council take a proactive approach and offer businesses a helping hand. Over time, Horner said, he would like to see plastics within the town reduced to a point where a ban isn’t necessary because the town and its residents and businesses aren’t using plastics.
“I get it; that’s not going to happen, but that’s my dream anyways,” Horner said.
Horner also wondered how much plastic is being produced or used in Qualicum Beach, so the town could give the community a figure to show over a period of time how much plastic the town has reduced.
On the town’s website under its plastic bag ban section, it states town residents use about 200 bags each every year, which would equal about 1.788 million plastic bags from town residents in a single year.
The town will also host two public input sessions on Jan. 18, 2018, from 2-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. at town hall (660 Primrose St.).
For more information on the town’s proposed ban on single-use plastic bags, visit www.qualicumbeach.com/plastic-bags.