Plastic bags will soon be banned from retail outlets in Rossland. Photo submitted

Rossland council to hold meeting on plastic bag ban

Bylaw passes second reading, but councillors want to hear from residents before moving forward

Residents of Rossland are going to have a say on the contents of the new bylaw banning plastic shopping bags in the city.

Council gave second reading to the bylaw on Monday night, but stopped short of giving it final reading, as planned.

Councillors instead voted in favour of holding a full public hearing on the bylaw before moving it along legislatively.

“We’re going to have a community meeting,” says Mayor Kathy Moore. “I think it’s good to have a public meeting, and we’ll see if people show up.”

Moore says council wants the bylaw to have broad public support, and an education campaign is important to help build consensus.

Council thought the best way to do that was to pass the bylaw, then get education and support programs in place. But she says a healthy council debate Monday night changed that view.

“So just sort of taking it a little bit slower.”

Little changed with the bylaw at second reading.

A penalty that would see business owners fined for not charging for a reusable bag was dropped from the bylaw Monday night.

Otherwise, the bylaw sets out a series of fines and other consequences for businesses — or individuals — handing out plastic bags at checkout.

A business owner has to follow a strict procedure not to fall afoul of the new law: they must first ask the customer if they need a bag, then offer a paper or reusable bag. Whether they charge for that bag is up to them.

Providing a check-out bag except as allowed in the bylaw, providing a bag when the customer didn’t want one, or refusing to use a customer’s reusable bag, all carry a $100 fine per offence. It’s about half that for individuals violating the bylaw.

There are a few exceptions to the rules. Plastic bags used in grocery stores for nuts, candy or bulk foods, or in hardware stores for nails and bolts, are allowed; so is plastic used to wrap frozen fish or meat, flowers, baked goods or pharmacy drugs. You can also use plastic to transport live fish, wrap laundry from the drycleaner, or protect larger items like bedding, or newspapers from getting wet.

Customers who bring in old plastic bags can also re-use them at check-out time as well.

Businesses can be charged up to $10,000 for repeated violations of the bylaw, individuals up to $500.

Moore says she’s confident the bill will pass.

“I don’t think it’s rocket science,” she says. “I don’t think it’s a surprise for anybody. I think a lot of businesses in town are preparing for this. We’ve talked about it for 12 years.”

A date for the public meeting had not been set by press time. Check the city’s Facebook page for notice of the public meeting.

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