The Village of Cumberland is taking steps toward an eventual ban of single use plastic bags in the community. (Black Press files)

Cumberland to look at single use plastic bag ban in the village

Council approves motion for staff report into logistics of implementing plastics regulations

The Village of Cumberland is taking steps towards restricting single use plastics in the community.

Counc. Roger Kishi approached council Monday with a request to endorse Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns’s private members’ bill, M-151: a national strategy to combat plastic pollution.

READ MORE: M-151 – National strategy to combat plastic pollution

Council endorsed the bill, then voted in favour of a motion directing staff to return to council with a report on how to proceed with a possible implementation of a single use plastics ban.

“We are going to have to wait for a staff report to come back, to give us all the facts about what it would mean, and what the process would be to go about it,” said Kishi. “Victoria has been successful with the implementation of their single use plastic bag bylaw, so there’s [a precedent].”

READ MORE: Victoria becomes first municipality in B.C. to adopt a plastic bag ban

Kishi had no timeline on when such a staff report would be presented to council, but with the village’s chief administrative officer, Sundance Topham, away this week, it won’t be assigned until at least next week.

“There’s a ton of stuff on our staff’s workload right now, so I’m not thinking it’s going to come back for our next council meeting [July 23] and in August, we only have one council meeting, so… I don’t control the timeline of staff [assignments],” said Kishi, who is also a representative on the regional district’s solid wast management board. “It sort of ties in with that (regional board), because we are wrestling with that too – how to deal with these plastics. One way is to try to eliminate them from the whole waste stream, to begin with.”

Kishi said although the Village does not have an official stance on it yet, many of the businesses in the community have been taking a pro-active approach.

“A few years ago there was sort of an informal [discussion] with the merchants, about what their thoughts were on it, and generally, there’s some support of it. Yes, there are some concerns as to whether or not it’s going to cost them money for their business, but there are actually quite a few businesses in Cumberland that are not using single use plastics. There are shops already using paper bags.

“Even the BC Liquor Store. I have been into the (government) store recently, and their bags are biodegradable.”

Seeds Food Market in Cumberland is another retailer already ahead of the curve when it comes to single use plastics.

“In general, we have, since our inception, been working toward reducing our plastic footprint,” said store manager, Patricia Leeson. “We only use donated bags, or we use paper bags for all our stuff already. So we are turning the bags from single use plastics into multi-use plastics. Since our opening, most of our practices are as environmentally [friendly] as we can make them.”

Kishi is hopeful the Village can take a lead on this initiative, and that the other Comox Valley municipalities will follow.

(When approached by The Record earlier this year, other municipalities in the community were non-commital.)

RELATED: No talk of any ban in the Comox Valley

“We are going to try and do our little bit in Cumberland and see what happens,” said Kishi. “Maybe we will be at the lead, like we have been with a few other things.”

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