Plastic found on Tow Hill on March 24. (Archie Stocker Sr. / Haida Gwaii Observer)

Queen Charlotte explores banning single use plastics

Council seeking community input on options to reduce plastic waste

The Village of Queen Charlotte is proceeding with plans to investigate whether a ban on single use plastics would be supported in the town.

Council voted on June 3 to implement a communications strategy to gauge the attitudes of local businesses and residents towards such a move. The decision would have a big impact on many establishments, particularly in the food and beverage industry, as plastic bags and takeout containers were identified as key items that would be gone under the ban.

Plastic straws were also singled out, due to their particularly devastating impact on the environment. Canadians throw out millions of straws every day, which go on to kill millions of animals every year.

READ MORE: Tofino, Ucluelet officially ban plastic bags and straws

The issue is extra pressing for the Haida Gwaii islands as they are the first point of contact with the Pacific ocean. This was made abundantly clear after the 2011 Tohoku tsunami in Japan saw debris make its way all the way to Haida Gwaii. The Japanese government donated one million dollars to help with the cleanup effort.

Local opinion appears mixed on the topic. A pair of polls conducted last summer showed that 44 per cent of Queen Charlotte residents supported a ban on plastic eating and drinking containers. 36 per cent supported a ban on plastic bags, while just 21 per cent said they would be in favor of eliminating plastic straws.

Some of the concerns cited with any potential bans included too much government regulation of people’s lives, worries about how to collect garbage without plastic bags, and whether there could be more recycling bins added to the community instead.

READ MORE: Canada to ban single-use plastics in 2021

The Haida Nation is in favour of a ban on plastic bags, passing Resolution 2014-24 to such an effect.

The council will review the consultation process once it is complete, and decide whether a voluntary ban would be supported by the community. If not, Queen Charlotte could enact a bylaw to enforce the matter. Leaving the plastic situation in its current state is an option as well, if there is not enough support from residents.

Council is hoping to have the consultation completed sometime in July, at which point they would draft either a voluntary ban or bylaw ban if the measure has enough favour in Queen Charlotte.


Alex Kurial | Journalist
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