British Columbia

Surrey approves bylaw to ban single-use plastic bags, containers

Plastic shopping bags, foam cups and takeout containers could soon be banned in Surrey after city council adopted a bylaw that would seek provincial permission to ban single-use plastic items.

Bag bans have already been approved in Richmond

The Surrey Board of Trade said the council's move to ban single-use plastic items is a "step in the right direction." (Shane Magee/CBC)

Plastic shopping bags, foam cups and takeout containers could soon be banned in Surrey after city counciladopted a bylaw that would seek provincial permission to ban single-use plastic items.

The B.C. government confirmed in September that it would approve all such municipal bylaws and has already signed off on bag bans for Victoria, Saanich, Richmond, Ucluelet and Tofino.

Vancouver operates under different legislation and did not need provincial certification to ban bags effective Jan. 1, 2022, while its prohibition on foam containers and other single-use items has been in effect for almost a year.

Surrey's bylaw mirrors those already approved in other municipalities requiring merchants to charge fees for paper or reusable bags, in order to encourage consumers to use their own.

Surrey council has also more than doubled penalties for illegal cutting of trees, raising fines to as much as $5,000, depending on the type of tree, while also hiking the penalty to $20,000 for damaging or cutting any of the city's "significant trees."

The Surrey Board of Trade said in a statement that it approves of council's move to ban single-use plastics and although the bylaw "does not align completely'' with the board's request for a phase-out of the items, "it is a step in the right direction."

Board CEO Anita Huberman has called on the city to consult with business owners to prepare for the ban, and said her organization is ready to ensure a "smooth and cost-effective transition.'

"There are innovative industry opportunities that are available now, or that can be developed, that will lead to new employment opportunities,'' Huberman says.
 

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