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Ladysmith awaits CVRD initiative on plastic bag ban

CVRD found collection route north of Ladysmith contained 25% non-acceptable materials in 2016

The Town of Ladysmith will await direction from the Cowichan Valley Regional District before entertaining any further discussion on the banning of plastic bags.

A two person delegation asking the town to restrict ‘shopping bags’, understood by staff to mean both paper and plastic, did not show up to last Monday’s meeting despite being listed on the agenda and submitting a PowerPoint presentation ahead of time.

Still, councillors spent a brief period of time discussing how the town could proceed on what has been a topic of discussion in Nanaimo and more recently in Victoria, where that city voted 8-1 earlier this month to pass a bylaw banning single use plastic bags from businesses.

Mayor Aaron Stone said the CRVD is currently undertaking its own “initiative” looking into a possible ban, adding that he thinks engagement with both the public and business community is needed.

“It’s fully achievable and not nearly as difficult as people think,” Stone said, later adding “I think that we seem to have been a quick follow on a lot of good initiatives in the last couple of years and this is an opportunity to have someone go a little bit before us, learn a few lessons and pick those up as we go and implement them.”

Councillor Duck Paterson questioned why further discussion was needed when many other communities are moving forward.

“It’s a necessity happening all across Canada, North America, hopefully the world. Why do we need to contemplate it ? Why can’t we just do it?” he said.

The mayor assured council that he would relay back any measures proposed by the CVRD in the near future.

“I think Victoria’s done it in a good way that says ‘it’s coming’, ‘it’s happening’, so maybe not engagement but the time to make necessary arrangements,” Stone added.

A CVRD staff report in 2009 indicated that the federation lacked the authority to implement a ban on single use shopping bags, and also did not have the staffing to enforce such a bylaw.

A staff audit of a load of recycling from a collection route north of Ladysmith in 2016 found 25 per cent of the material was contaminated with non-acceptable materials. The public awareness campaign was launched in part to educate the public on plastic bags and other items not accepted in recycling totes.

“In the diversion stream when we’re trying to do a better job of recycling and reclaiming the materials, plastic bags really do impact the cost and the ability to that,” Stone said at last week’s council meeting. “That kind of contamination results in stuff still going to the landfill land breaking down and we all know how that turns out.”

Councillor Steve Arnett also supported the move but cautioned against any swift action before talking with local businesses.

“I’ve actually wondered why if they’ve figured out how to have bags for our recycles that are OK for our environment why somebody hasn’t figured that out for single use shopping bags,” he said. “I agree with you that we would really want to talk with the business community and make sure that their timing is the same as our timing on this.”

Have an opinion on whether Ladysmith and the CVRD should ban shopping bags ? Email or call 250-924-6085.

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