BAN THE BAG?
Committee eyes ways to reduce use
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."