Moncton-area municipalities delay single-use plastic bag bylaw restrictions
Implementation of rules restricting shops from offering plastic bags in most cases pushed back 3 months
Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview are delaying the implementation of a bylaw barring stores from offering single-use plastic shopping bags by three months because of the pandemic.
Dieppe Mayor Yvon Lapierre said in an interview that public health officials had recommended delaying implementation of the bylaw.
"The plastic bags would not have any trace of the virus versus bags that are being brought in from home," Lapierre said.
Dieppe and Riverivew introduced amendments during council meetings Monday to their versions of the bylaw, which had been adopted in concert with Moncton last year. A Riverview town staff report says Moncton will also amend its bylaw.
The amendment moves implementation from July 1 to Oct. 1.
Annette Crummey, Riverview town clerk, told councillors at a meeting Monday the move was in part because some stores want customers to only use bags provided by the store.
The town staff report states "many stores" have postponed their changes to the use of plastic bags because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stores like NB Liquor and Sobeys already eliminated the use of most grocery bags, instead selling reusable or paper bags and allowing customers to pack them on their own.
However, some Superstore locations have asked customers not to bring reusable bags into its stores and single-use plastic bags continue to be provided.
Crummey said concerns about the implementation of the bylaw were brought up by Riverview council and taken to a meeting of the three community councils, which hold closed-door meetings to discuss common issues.
Jim Cormier, director of the Retail Council of Canada in Atlantic Canada, said the association had called for a delay and is pleased with the outcome.
Cormier said the group wasn't calling for scrapping the bylaws, just a pause during the pandemic to address health concerns.
It follows a similar delay to province-wide rules in Newfoundland and Labrador announced last month because of the pandemic.
The three communities introduced the bylaw last spring, providing a year for customers to adjust and for stores to use their remaining bag inventories before the new rules took effect.
The intent was to reduce single-use bags and cause people to always use reusable bags.
The bylaw also requires businesses to charge for most paper bags in an attempt to encourage the use of reusable bags.
It includes exemptions for things like loose fruit, potted plants, flyers and dry cleaned clothing. Selling packages of multiple garbage bags would still be allowed.
While Moncton council approved the bylaw, several councillors were critical of the number of exceptions it allows. Moncton Coun. Brian Hicks called it more "symbolism than anything."
Violations of the bylaw, once in effect, could result in a fine between $140 and $2,100.
Steph Herdman, a spokesperson for Riverview, said the change also "relieves the risk of potential enforcement issues for municipalities."