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Plastic bag ban proposed for Grande Prairie

On the heels of Earth Day one local woman is asking the city to ban single use plastic bags in Grande Prairie. The United Kingdom has recently taken steps to ban not just single use shopping bags but q-tips and straws.

The city of Montreal banned plastic bags at the beginning of this year while here in Alberta the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo enacted a plastic bag ban in 2010.

Maurissa Heitland is hoping to generate some interest in a similar ban on plastic shopping bags in GP. She says she regularly talks to cashiers about the idea and many of them seem to support the plan. She adds they have told her many people are upset when they have to pay for bags.

“The idea of charging for bags is to dissuade people from using them, under the environmental pretext. Although stores and retail facilities they take that money and it just goes into their coffers.”

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The bylaw enacted in the RMWB was adjusted after one year. It was a complete ban on all single use bag which presented unexpected complications for fast food restaurants and pharmacies. Heitland says her proposal would not ban paper bags.

“I think the real struggle is when people show to purchase items coming from out of town or they just have a large amount of purchases to make in a grocery store for example. And then they’d have nothing to put their items in. If they’re still allowable in the bylaw to have the paper bags then it’s not an issue.”

Heitland says even beyond the environmental impacts the bags add to litter problems and are an eyesore. Mayor Bill Given says the issues is very timely.

“At the same time, it’s one that may be challenging for individual municipalities to work on. There are a few limited cases across Canada where individual municipalities have taken action on single use plasticis but not all. I think the reason for that is because it’s a complex issue.”

The idea was referred to a standing committee for more information. Heitland says she also plans to take her plans to county council.

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