Surrey mayor's plastic bag ban blindsides councillor who introduced the idea

At least one Surrey councillor is unhappy at the way Mayor Doug McCallum has announced the city is banning single-use plastic shopping bags starting Jan. 1, 2021.

Coun. Brenda Locke first brought the bag ban idea forward to council last year. She says today's unilateral announcement by the Surrey mayor was a blindside to her and other councillors. 

"This came out of the blue," said Locke. "I had been talking to city staff and we were working though Metro Vancouver on something that would support the business community and how we do the transition."

Locke says businesses potentially impacted by the ban need to be consulted before pushing ahead with the plan.

"We haven't done that ... so the date to me seems artificial when we don't have a strategy. At least there hasn't been one that was shared with me and I'm the one that initiated the ban in the first place," she said.

In a release, McCallum says a bag ban is a simple and effective step that will have a beneficial impact on Surrey.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

"In this day and age where we all can play a role in curbing waste and consumption, there is no reason not to have a reusable shopping bag close at hand for bagging groceries or other goods," he said.

"My council colleagues are fully in support of this initiative and a corporate report will be brought forward within the next month for council action."

According the the Retail Council of Canada, a number of British Columbia cities and municipalities have already acted to ban plastic bags, including Courtenay, Kamloops, Nanaimo, Rossland, Salmon Arm, Saanich, Tofino, Ucluelet and Victoria.

Vancouver city council voted to ban plastic bags starting on Jan. 1 of next year. 

More than 40 per cent of plastic is only used once in B.C. according to government statistics, creating mountains of needless waste, litter and micro plastics that pollute the environment and threaten wildlife.