Grocery bags and other single-use plastic items are facing a ban in Maple Ridge. (Black Press file photo)

Grocery bags and other single-use plastic items are facing a ban in Maple Ridge. (Black Press file photo)

Maple Ridge council to consider ban on single-use plastics

Staff will bring back proposed bylaw in coming months

Maple Ridge city council will soon consider a new bylaw to ban single-use plastics.

Coun. Ahmed Yousef brought the issue to council’s Tuesday evening meeting, and the politicians directed staff to bring a bylaw before council.

“I would like to encourage my fellow colleagues to proceed with the writing of the bylaw, as many of our neighbouring municipalities and comparative municipalities have done so,” said Yousef, citing Surrey, Chilliwack, Richmond, Vancouver, Tofino, Rossland and Victoria as examples.

Councillors expressed concerns that the bylaw didn’t fit into staff work plans, and expressed a desire to see this issue dealt with by senior government – federal or provincial.

David Pollock, the manager of engineering services, said the bylaw is in the work plan for 2022, and he expects to have a bylaw before council by the second quarter of the year. He said the province is expected to have a ban in place by 2023, but many cities are drafting bylaws as an interim step until that happens.

Coun. Chelsa Meadus also asked that local businesses be consulted before the bylaw is adopted, and was assured by Pollock they would be involved.

Yousef said afterward he was happy to advocate for this initiative, and said many Maple Ridge restaurants and businesses are already cutting their use of plastics. At many, if you ask for a take-out container, you will get something compostable.

He noted there have been recent reports of microplastics found in human bodies.

“The whole point is to get away from plastics, that are found in our waterways, fish, turtles and now in our blood streams,” he said.

Last month, a paper published in Environment International said researchers had found plastic in the blood of 17 out of 22 study participants. The work was done by an ecotoxicologist in the Netherlands. More research is being done.

READ ALSO: Plastics ban coming after Environment Canada science review backs need

Pollock said there needs to be a harmonized approach to single-use plastics bylaws across the region, and said the city would base its new bylaw on work already done by Metro.

In Nov. 2021, the Metro Vancouver Board approved a Regionally Harmonized Approach to Municipal Single-Use Item Reduction Bylaws.

The “harmonized approach” said its goal is to reduce single use items, and not simply swap single-use plastic items for those made of wood or paper.

It would ban plastic bags, straws, stir sticks and foam service containers.

It would put a 25 cent fee on recycled paper bags, and $2 for reusable bags.

All utensils and paper straws would only be provided at customer request.

Metro’s approach allows for exemptions, such as for medical uses.

READ ALSO: Microplastics found in stomachs of belugas highlight extent of pollution, researcher says

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