Nova Scotia

Halifax one step closer to banning single-use plastic bags

The environment committee has voted in favour of a ban starting July 1, but the move still needs to be approved by regional council.

Environment committee voted in favour of ban starting on July 1

Regional council would still have to approve the ban. (John Robertson/CBC)

Halifax is one step closer to banning plastic bags.

The city's environment committee voted Thursday in favour of a bylaw that would ban single-use plastic bags as of July 1, 2019.

The vote contradicts a municipal staff recommendation to try voluntary measures for a year and only bring in a ban if that didn't work.

That's what Coun. David Hendsbee​ supported.

"To do it dictatorially and have an outright prohibition, I think it's going to be a lot of consternation for a lot of businesses as well as individuals," he said.

"People I think participate much more in a pleasant way if they were asked to do it without it being demanded and dictated to do it."

'No reason not to go for a ban'

But several members of the public who presented to the committee spoke in favour of a ban.

"Plastic bags get used for something like 12 seconds on average, you know, from the store to the car and then from the car to home and then under the sink until they end up in the garbage," Duncan Reed told the committee. 

"There's just in today's day and age no reason not to go to a ban or a fee that encourages the use of recycled or sustainable materials."

Kate Pepler, who runs The Tare Shop, a packaging-free store and café in Halifax, said although her shop has only been open for two months, it has already saved more then 4,500 plastic bags and 2,800 disposable cups from entering the waste stream.

"And we're just one small business," she said "Imagine if HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada took action and stood up for this issue. It has a huge impact."

Provincial vs. municipal ban

Some retail officials argued for a provincial ban rather than a variety of municipal ones.

But Coun. Lisa Blackburn said since the province hasn't taken that step, the municipality must.

"Certainly a provincewide ban is much better than a patchwork quilt of individual municipalities going it alone. But without that leadership there, then as the largest municipality in the province, it's on our shoulders to move and move now."

Blackburn said she supports the ban because climate change is too pressing an issue to delay action.

"I just don't think we have time.… we don't have time to ease people into this," she said.

The ban supported by the environment committee still needs final approval from regional council.

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca