St. Catharines council seeks legal advice on proposed plastic bag ban


A proposal to ban single-use plastic bags in St. Catharines is being referred to the city's legal team for advice.

St. George's Coun. Kevin Townsend made a motion Monday night asking that council ban single-use plastic shopping bags like some other Canadian cities have been trying to do.

He said it was a way for St. Catharines to show it wants to be an environmentally green city and be a champion in the fight against climate change.

"I think this is a great opportunity for us to be a leader when it comes to showing that we are serious and to send a message to the rest of Ontario," he said.

St. Patrick's Coun. Mat Siscoe asked the motion be sent to the city's lawyer for a report, specifically on the legal ramifications, which council supported. Siscoe said it's been tried in other municipalities but there have been obstacles.

In British Columbia, the City of Victoria's bylaw banning retailers from providing plastic checkout bags was overturned by the B.C. Court of Appeal in July.

It found the city's bylaw required approval from the province before being enacted. Victoria is asking the Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeal decision.

Townsend said he is inspired by what other cities are doing across the country.

Woodstock's council recently endorsed a motion to ban single-use plastic shopping bags and Montreal, along with Victoria, are making progress on a ban.

The provinces of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia have banned single-use plastic bags.

Townsend's motion called for a single-use plastic bag ban to be implemented by December 2020. It asked that the city work with the business community to provide direction for alternatives to single-use plastics.

Those could include plant-based cassava plastic bags, which retail for three cents a bag and are biodegradable and compostable, Townsend said.

St. Catharines city council adopted a ban on selling plastic straws in municipal facilities in January.