A bylaw addressing what the city sees as problematic single-use plastic items likely won’t be for the current council to decide.
Victoria council in April tasked staff to create a bylaw that aims to protect the city’s natural environment from the 75,000 single-use items being thrown away every day in the capital.
That proposed bylaw will look to impose regulations on reducing plastic waste, likely through bans on specific items, and expanding the role of reusable products. Staff expect to bring a bylaw to council in the fall, at which point it will need multiple readings on separate dates to allow for public comment, city spokesperson Bill Eisenhauer said.
That means the bylaw likely won’t be adopted before the municipal election on Oct. 15.
Engagement with business stakeholders is underway and the city is hosting three in-person workshops on July 20 and 21 to collect feedback, Eisenhauer added. Those sessions will cover the proposed policies requiring businesses to: use reusable products for dine-in services; distribute utensils, stir sticks and straws only by request; and charge a 25-cent fee on disposable cups and containers.
Last July, the province amended its Community Charter to drop the minister’s approval requirement for local governments wanting to ban single-use plastics, including plastic checkout bags, polystyrene foam containers and plastic utensils, including stir sticks.
Eisenhauer clarified all the things Victoria’s proposed bylaw will set out to do are not covered under that exemption.
In a letter to Victoria council, Environment Minister George Heyman said proposed provincial single-use plastic regulations are expected in the fall, following a report summarizing feedback engagement that’s running until June 21. After that, “the province would be in the position to revisit municipal bylaws that are submitted and require minister’s approval,” the letter said.
The province is looking to coordinate its regulations with the anticipated timing of proposed federal regulations. The Liberal government initially announced last year that those Canada-wide regulations look to ban the manufacture, import and sale of plastic stir sticks, cutlery, six-pack rings, and bags while Styrofoam takeout containers will be eliminated entirely.
Federal Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault published the final single-use plastic ban regulations Monday (June 20), which are also expected to include banning companies from importing or making plastic bags and Styrofoam takeout containers by the end of this year, their sale by the end of next year and their export by the end of 2025.
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