Com­mit­tee eyes ways to re­duce use

Winnipeg Sun - - NEWS - SCOTT BILLECK

The idea of ban­ning plas­tic bags in Win­nipeg is mov­ing up the lad­der at city hall.

The city’s stand­ing pol­icy com­mit­tee on wa­ter and waste is set to con­sider the ban on plas­tic bags, 160 mil­lion of which end up in the Brady Road Land­fill an­nu­ally.

The need for fur­ther talks on the is­sue stems from Coun. Russ Wy­att’s (Transcona) mo­tion to im­ple­ment the ban at a com­mu­nity com­mit­tee meet­ing on Tues­day, not long af­ter the em­bat­tled coun­cil­lor was ar­rested on sex­ual as­sault charges.

The wa­ter and waste com­mit­tee is sched­uled to next meet in Septem­ber.

Coun. Ja­son Schreyer (Elm­wood - East Kil­do­nan), chair of the East Kil­do­nan-transcona com­mu­nity com­mit­tee where Wy­att brought forth the mo­tion, backed the idea, as did Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kil­do­nan).

“We’ve got a prob­lem, and Win­nipeg­gers, I think, de­serve to know this," Schreyer said. "I think we need to have a real de­bate on this."

Schreyer said a full ban is only one op­tion.

“There are other ways we can do this,” he said. “In Ire­land, they brought for a tax that’s cuts bag use there by 90% in one year. Win­nipeg­gers need to know that they use a bil­lion plas­tic bags each decade. Is this how we want to con­tinue? These are the things we have to dis­cuss.”

Four com­mu­ni­ties — Leaf Rapids, Snow Lake, The Pas and Thomp­son — have al­ready in­sti­tuted a ban on sin­gle-use plas­tic bags.

Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Rochelle Squires, who quoted a story about the ban in Mon­treal on New Year’s Day ask­ing if Win­nipeg should do the same in a tweet, said she’s be­hind the ban.

Squires has set up a re­cy­cling task force that is work­ing over the sum­mer to find ways to re­duce plas­tic pol­lu­tion.

“Ul­ti­mately, the only home for 95-plus per cent of these bags is the land­fill or worse yet, the wa­ter­ways," Squires said. "They wreak havoc on our wildlife and fish species when they en­ter the wa­ter­ways. There’s a huge prob­lem with sin­gle-use plas­tic bags."

Would the prov­ince fol­low in the city’s foot­steps should it ban plas­tic bags?

“I had great con­ver­sa­tions with the mayor of Thomp­son, who told me one of the best things they did, en­vi­ron­men­tally speak­ing, for their com­mu­nity, was ban the use of sin­gle-use plas­tic bags,” Squires said. “I’m ex­cited to part­ner with the city on this and other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.”

An email from Mayor Brian Bow­man’s spokesper­son Jeremy Davis on Fri­day said the mayor is open to work­ing with the prov­ince and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties on the ban.

“With re­gard to plas­tic bags, Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Rochelle Squires has pre­vi­ously stated that the Prov­ince of Man­i­toba wants to have a con­ver­sa­tion with all Man­i­to­bans re­gard­ing sin­gle-use plas­tic bags in land­fills," the email said. "If the prov­ince ul­ti­mately con­sid­ers a prov­ince-wide ban on plas­tic bags, the Mayor has in­di­cated he would be open to dis­cussing it in co­or­di­na­tion with the As­so­ci­a­tion of Man­i­toba Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties."


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