Rossland’s plastic bag ban is designed to help the city do its part to reduce the problem of ocean plastic. (File photo)

Rossland mayor welcomes federal ban on single-use plastic

“Now there’s an element of common sense to it.”

Rossland’s mayor says she welcomes a federal plan to ban single-use plastics in Canada as early as 2021.

“It’s important,” says Mayor Kathy Moore. “Governments don’t move quickly, so it’s usually the impetus of the people that moves things. So to me it’s a good sign, the people, the population is understanding the need.”

Rossland’s city council is currently considering such a ban.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday that Ottawa would impose bans on specific items determined by a science-based review, but said the government is considering items such as water bottles, plastic bags and straws.

“Many other countries are doing that and Canada will be one of them,” Trudeau said. “This is a big step but we know can do this for 2021.”

SEE: Canada to ban single-use plastics by 2021

A few Canadian municipalities, including Rossland, have banned or are planning a ban on single-use plastics. Rossland’s bylaw has undergone two of the required three readings.

Moore says the federal move can be seen as a kind of vindication for their initiative.

“Rossland started working on a plastic bag bylaw 12 years ago, we were cutting edge, no one else was doing it,” says Moore. “Now there’s an element of common sense to it. When you get federal action, it just reinforces that.

“We aren’t ‘radical environmentalists’, we’re just good stewards of our planet,” she said, laughing.

It’s not clear when the single-use bylaw will become law, but Moore says she’s hoping it will pass final reading for July first.

SEE: Bylaw banning plastic bags introduced to Rossland city council

Rossland’s bylaw allows for a six-month grace period to allow businesses to transition, and to educate the public on the alternatives to single use plastic.

Both individuals and businesses can face hefty fines for ignoring the bylaw after the grace period expires.

In Ottawa, Trudeau said his government is drawing inspiration from the European Union’s Parliament, which voted overwhelmingly in March to impose a wide-ranging ban on single-use plastics to counter pollution from discarded items that end up in waterways and fields. Legislatures of the EU member states must vote on the measure before it takes effect.

Less than 10 per cent of plastic used in Canada gets recycled. The government said that 1 million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals worldwide are injured or die each year when they mistake plastic for food or become entangled

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