Kitimat City Council tabled a potential emergency resolution for the Union of BC Municipalities at their Regular Meeting on July 21st. This resolution spawned from a motion which Councillor Mary Murphy brought before Council, to ban plastic bags, starting with single use plastic bags at the Check-Out Counters.
On Monday, July 28th at the Committee of the Whole Meeting, Council brought the bag issue back. Murphy made the motion to take it off the table for discussion. A memo to Council showed that plastic bag bans have gone to UBCM in the past and have failed.
“Maybe we should take it up ourselves with the government,” said Murphy. “I suggest we defer this and discuss it with the government when we go down and we meet with them. We can discuss the plastic bag use in BC and try to get some kind of commitment from the ministers to reduce that and recycle.”
“I can support defering this for discussion with the provincial government but I cannot support… I think that from Kitimat’s perspective, we’re getting ahead of ourselves and we have bigger issues to deal with on recycling and landfill extension fronts. I hope… I just don’t see this as a pressing need. We have cardboard, lawn clippings, wood, roofing tiles, we have a number of things we can make progress on,” said Feldhoff.
He expressed it has come forward at the UBCM and has not succeeded. He expressed he did not want to take away from Murphy’s ability to speak to government but he did not see it as being a high priority for Council.
“Burning wood wasn’t high on my priority, we went down and we took that up for you so banning plastic bag use…” said Murphy
Feldhoff interrupted to let her know that once a motion has past, it was no longer his motion but Councils.
“Actually it was a discussion we had with the minister to try and change some of the way we do business within BC. It’s very successful in lots of cities in Alberta and Saskatchewan and I think it’s good that we kind of champion this a little bit,” said Murphy.
Feldhoff explained he wanted to extend the life of the landfill. The reason why wood came up was because at one time, wood was burned. Now, only shrubs and timber is burned. Certain wood going into the landfill negates the work which Council has done to extend the life of the landfill. There is a spot for grass clippings but this does not prevent people from putting it into the garbage cans and going with the garbage.
“We need to provide people with other alternatives to dump lawn clippings but that’s a discussion for another day,” said Feldhoff. He stated roofing was brought up, with the many homes in Kitimat needing roofing in a 20 year cycle would mean a lot of roofing tiles going into the dump.
Councillor Phil Germuth stated he would not support banning the bags at this time. “Instead of banning everything out there, MMBC does accept plastic bags. Really the responsibility lies with us, the citizens to do a little more recycling and bringing things to the recycle rather than trying to ban everything out there,” said Germuth.
“Using plastic bags is a convenience and there are other options. It’s not only a problem in our landfill, it’s a problem everywhere and it’s one thing that we needed a handle on,” said Murphy. “There’s other options for using plastic bags. It can be recycled. Right now, there isn’t a program for recycling them.”According to the District of Kitimat Website, Multi-Materials BC accepts plastic bags for recycling at the Kitimat Bottle Depot. More information on what can be recycled there can be found by clicking this paragraph.
The motion was called and defeated. Mayor Joanne Monaghan and Councillor Mary Murphy were in favour.
Councillor Rob Goffinet made a motion to ask staff to arrange a meeting with the Minister of the Environment during the UBCM Conference to talk about recycling matters. He pointed out there were things this would naturally fit in.
Councillor Feldhoff agreed as they needed to talk about MMBC, after smaller communities like Kitimat are paying the fees for MMBC and are not being fairly dealt with. He pointed out that even though Council opted out of the recycling program, MMBC was still supposed to set up a blue box program.
“We seem to be losing out because we’re a smaller community,” said Feldhoff.
The motion was called and carried.