Plastic bag ban: Winnipeg mayor open to discussion of province-wide ban

Should Winnipeg become the next city to ban plastic bags?

Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires tweeted about ban on Jan. 1

Montreal banned single-use plastic bags on Jan. 1, 2017. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Should Winnipeg become the next city to ban plastic bags?

That's the question posed by Minister of Sustainable Development Rochelle Squires in a tweet on Jan. 1, referencing the new ban on single-used plastic shopping bags that came into effect in Montreal on that day.

"Very good news for Montreal," Squires wrote in the tweet. "Should Winnipeg add itself to the growing list of municipalities to ban these shopping bags?"

She added the hashtag "#somethingworthconsidering."

The bags are already banned in some Manitoba communities, including Thompson, The Pas, Leaf Rapids and Snow Lake.

Montreal's bylaw banning the bags makes it the first major Canadian city to enact such a rule. Toronto nearly did the same in 2012, but reversed course before the ban went forward. Victoria, B.C., is set to follow suit in July.

Montreal retailers have until June 5 — World Environment Day — to comply or they'll face penalties.

A spokesperson from the office of Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said the mayor would consider discussing a province-wide ban — if that's what the minister was suggesting.

"If the tweet by the Minister of Sustainable Development is an indication the provincial government is considering a province-wide initiative regarding plastic bags, the Mayor would be open to having a dialogue with the province and the Association of Manitoba Municipalities," the statement reads.

Ban unnecessary: Take Pride Winnipeg

Tom Ethans, executive director of Take Pride Winnipeg, said he doesn't think banning the bags is necessary.

"Plastic bags are recyclable. People are learning everyday that they're trying to start using less plastic bags. They are starting to use reusable bags," he said.

Take Pride Winnipeg partners with Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba to collect plastic bags from schools across the province to be recycled. This year, the program collected 1.1 million bags from 161 schools, he said.

Ethans said people often reuse plastic shopping bags as garbage bags or waste bags for their pets.

"If we can recycle something, there's no reason to ban it. Just get people more educated about reducing the amount of plastic that they use, using reusable bags and recycling whatever plastic they have," he said.