Council adds public consultation, but no staff report for plastics regulation
What did city council spend the most time on Monday night?
It was not the relocation of the Hub Trail that connects a national historic site and the Canal District to the city.
It was not about the current COVID situation, nor was it to answer questions about how two offers for the transit terminal, both late, were accepted and decided.
No, just over 40 minutes of Monday night’s 3-hour council meeting was spent talking about plastic and how to ban part of town from it.
Following a bequest from city staff, the bylaw implementation deadline was extended until Canada Day 2022, and although public consultation was added, this appeared to be only because it had to.
“What I meant was that I / we really tried not to say how to do it. But just to say what we wanted to happen. So you know I would be happy July 1 if Councilor Shoemaker is happy with July 1, ”Councilor Hillsinger said as the revised motion moved towards the vote.
She continued, “Clearly we have support for this. So if making that decision today says July 1st, we do it, we do the consultation, we engage people, we make it happen, the way it’s going to work for our community, then I totally agree. with that. If the expeditious method gives an extra two months for that to happen, and we have a solid date in place for a regulation to be in place, that’s fine. “
However, there was opposition, even at the Council table, to the motion.
Some advisers were concerned about the application, legality and practicality of such a ban and worried that it would ultimately be better for the environment.
Councilor Matt Scott said he had researched the matter and was concerned. He pointed to a study showing that creating a paper bag took four times more energy than a plastic bag.
Scott was citing a study he read in 2011 by the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The document spells out as one of its conclusions.
“It takes more than four times as much energy to make a paper bag than to make a plastic bag. “
Plastic bags are made from waste from petroleum refining. When making a paper bag, you need to cut down forests to make the bags. According to research, a higher concentration of toxic chemicals is also used to make paper bags compared to plastic bags.
Scott was surprised by this information and it changed his thinking on the issue at hand.
“That’s why I’m in conflict, because it’s totally counterintuitive to anything I’ve thought about,” Scott said. “The amount of carbon emissions behind the production of paper bags is greater than that of plastic. Because this only requires a staff report, I will definitely support this tonight.
Mayor Christian Provenzano noted that this was not a staff report, but rather a ban on single-use plastics, but that the regulation would have to come back to Council before being adopted.
Councilor Luke Dufour, although an avid outdoorsman and supporter of reducing plastic waste, was concerned.
“You know, as everyone around this table probably knows, I have developed a habit of carefully following the application of the regulations and the various legal issues that arise from them,” said Dufour. “It’s hard for me not to take that lens and look at things like the shopping cart regulation, or the now plastic ban regulation, and see, in my opinion, the United States adding from regulations to a system that does not necessarily have the resources to enforce them adequately.
He continued, “When it comes to things like a ban on single-use plastic, my concern and fear that I feel is well founded. That internal resources be diverted from these basic municipal functions of providing enforcement of our building and our bylaws, on buildings, and that they be diverted to something that, while important, does not seem to me as essential to our basic municipal function or our basic municipal tax base, such as so are the plastic bags.
City attorney Kathy Fields, when asked about the legality, said the city would have to hold public consultations and if the federal or provincial government introduced its own laws, the city bylaw would become moot.
Other advisers mentioned exemptions that might need to be made for places like hospitals and food kitchens. One of them even suggested adding polystyrene to the regulations that are being drafted.
Council voted in favor of creating this bylaw, but moving the date to Canada Day and holding public consultations before implementing it.
SaultOnline and ONNTV will communicate these consultation dates to you once we become aware of them.
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