Revelstoke city recommendation: Environment committee should explore plastic shopping bag ban options

City staff are recommending the environmental advisory committee research options for either reducing or banning single-use plastic bags in Revelstoke.

Revelstoke's environmental advisory committee wants to explore whether the city should reduce or ban single-use plastic shopping bags in the community. Photo:Pixabay.

If you don’t already, you might want to start taking reusable bags with you when you go shopping in Revelstoke.

City of Revelstoke staff are asking city council to request the environmental advisory committee investigate feasibility and options for reducing or banning single use plastic shopping bags in Revelstoke.

The environment committee had requested city staff explore the topic of banning single use plastic bags. However, director of engineering Mike Thomas said in a report to council that due to a heavy workload, the development services department doesn’t have the resources to explore a potential plastic bag ban right now.

Instead, in a somewhat unusual move, the report from Thomas recommends that the environment committee itself research the topic and provide recommendations to council. Usually, committee recommendations go in the opposite direction; a committee recommends an action, council deliberates on the recommendation, then city staff do the work to formalize the plan. In this case, city staff have sent the committee recommendation back to the committee to do the legwork.

Municipalities across the globe have started to ban or reduce the availability of single use plastic bags, along with other types of single use plastics. The research conducted by the environmental advisory committee would explore whether the city of Revelstoke has the authority to ban single-use plastic bags in the community.

In B.C., the City of Victoria has announced plans for a plastic bag ban, but then faced legal opposition from a plastic bag industry group.

In his report, Thomas notes some of the environmental consequences of the single-use bags. “Single use shopping bags waste resources in their production and add to unnecessary waste being landfilled. Additionally, the environmental impacts of discarded plastic waste on waterways and aquatic wildlife in particular is significant and has been well documented both in Canada and internationally,” Thomas wrote.

There are a number of businesses in Revelstoke already that do not offer single-use plastic bags for purchases, but instead encourage customers to bring their own bag. These businesses also offer more environmentally friendly options such as paper bags or cardboard boxes which can be recycled. Other businesses have opted to  keep using single-use plastic bags but are charging a nominal fee in an attempt remind customers to bring their own bags.

Revelstoke city council will discuss the request for the environmental committee to research options for a plastic bag ban at a special council meeting on Tuesday, April 17.