Comox council will take a closer look at what a plastic ban within the town might look like – including bags, Styrofoam containers and plastic utensils.
At the Sept. 8 council meeting, council voted unanimously in favour of second reading to bylaws to regulate the business use of single-use plastics as well as to co-ordinate with other Comox Valley communities to develop similar regulations in order to be implemented at the same time.
According to a report from Jordan Wall, the town’s chief administrative officer, throughout the past few years, municipalities across the province have been increasingly looking to limit the use and amount of single-use plastics within their jurisdictions.
Nanaimo, Richmond, Victoria and others brought in regulations but were initially struck down by the court as being outside municipal jurisdiction. Municipalities sought special approval from the provincial government which was granted.
He added both Cumberland and Courtenay both adopted single-use plastic bylaws but then provided direction to not have them enforced; it is likely both communities will either need to amend their current bylaws or repeal them and introduce new ones to meet the updated regulatory framework.
Coun. Nicole Minions suggested having a six-month timeframe in order to facilitate conversations with the Comox Business in Action organization along with local restaurants and businesses.
Referencing the past summer, Coun. Stephanie McGown said “it was a wake-up call that climate change is here and people die. We need to do everything in our power to lower our carbon footprint and keep waste down. Removing plastics is a good step in the right direction.”
She added the town has the opportunity to be at the forefront of positive change but noted some items for takeout – specifically utensils – should remain for those with disabilities.
“I want to see a collaborative approach, but I don’t want it to take too long.”
Coun. Ken Grant noted he does not see an issue with foam containers, but said the town should have a conversation with stakeholders to ensure the bylaw would not cause an issue.
As for stores such as John’s Your Independent Grocer in Comox, Mayor Russ Arnott explained the store does not offer paper bags throughout its chain.
“And while (the owner) does want to comply … it will take a while to change their model.”
Wall noted there is a meeting set on Sept. 22 across the Island about plastic bans in municipalities, and he inquired with council about the importance of ensuring that the town’s regulations line up with that of others in the Valley.
“We can be the leaders on this if we need be,” McGowan replied.