Nfld. & Labrador

Corner Brook councillor looks to Fogo Island for bag-ban inspiration

A Corner Brook councillor says momentum is building on possible bag ban in his community.
Several municipalities in Canada have banned single-use plastic bags. (CBC)

A Corner Brook councillor says momentum is building on a possible ban on plastic bags, and that his city can learn a lesson from much smaller Newfoundland communities.

Keith Cormier, a self-described environmentalist and a first-term councillor, said Corner Brook, a city of about 20,000 people,  burns through a whopping 20 million bags every year.

"If only 25 per cent of those find their way into the environment, it's a huge blot on our pristine environment here on the west coast," Cormier said in an interview with CBC Radio's The Broadcast. 

Corner Brook councillor Keith Cormier wants to ban plastic bags in Corner Brook (CBC )

Cormier is considering a motion that would ban plastic bags at city stores. 

"I think there's a fair bit of optimism and enthusiasm for looking at it," he said on Monday, adding that the city already has a building that meets a high environmental standard. 

"We're doing a lot of environmental things here."

Environmentalists say plastic bags take hundreds of years to decompose, and can end up polluting rivers and water ecosystems.

The Plastics Industry in Canada though claims re-usable cloth bags are not a friendlier option, arguing they take more energy to produce, and are not reused enough.

'A little' whining on Fogo Island after ban

Cormier, who is keen to see the impact of plastic bags drop in Corner Brook, has been in touch with Gordon Slade, the head of the Shorefast Foundation on Fogo Island.

Gordon Slade: "Our greatest asset is the ocean. We really need to protect it." (CBC)

Slade, helped organize a plastic bag ban among businesses across Fogo Island, said the move has been a success since it came into effect Aug. 1. 

"We who live in Newfoundland, our greatest asset is the ocean. We really need to protect it," Slade said in an interview. 

Asked if there was any whining after the ban, Slade said, "There was a little, you know. People become accustomed to to something over time."

While Cormier is expecting a more difficult challenge to have a ban passed in Corner Brook, given the number of larger businesses operating in Corner Brook, he's taking heart in the efforts of Walmart and other "community champions" to reduce plastic ban usage.

Nain was the first community in Newfoundland and Labrador to ban plastic bags, and a number of Canadian cities are moving towards a possible prohibition, including Montreal.

"It hasn't been approved by council," he said.

"But I'm still working through the process with the city manager to look at ways to engage the community and get community buy-in before we go to council."

With files from Jane Adey


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.