The recent announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of a ban on single use plastics by 2021 was welcomed Monday by North Battleford mayor Ryan Bater.
“I think the preference from municipal leaders, not just here in Saskatchewan but across Canada, has been for there to be a strategy at a senior level of government. And now there is one,” said Bater to reporters following Monday’s council meeting.
“The details haven’t been released, obviously there’s a lot of consultation that has to happen. But we do know that plastics have a devastating impact on the environment. A lot of them end up in our landfill. As a local municipal government it’s very difficult to enforce any kind of strategy related to reduced use or banning.”
Bater said the preference was for this to be done at a senior level of government as opposed to the municipal level, “simply as a resource issue.”
“To be the only community taking action would be difficult, but if the whole country is doing it, it becomes much more manageable for everybody.”
Single use plastics have been one on the minds of council members for some time. The issue came to the surface last year when council was informed Loraas would not take plastics as recycling material anymore because their biggest customer, China, was no longer accepting them. That meant the city faced the prospect of plastics now filling up their landfill.
A delegation of two students from Ecole Monseigneur Blaise Morand also appeared last month at council advocating for a plastics ban in the city of North Battleford. In response to that presentation, Mayor Bater pledged he would take up the issue with the City Mayor’s Caucus the following day in Estevan.
At Monday’s council meeting, Bater reported that in fact he did do that.
“A lot of other Saskatchewan communities have been considering policy changes, considering everything from banning single-use bags to banning all single use plastics,” said Bater. “The difficulty is one of enforcement of a ban like that, and resources required to do that. So the preference from a lot of the city mayors was to have a strategy at the provincial level.”
A week and a half before, Bater, as well as Councillors Kelli Hawtin and Don Buglas attended a Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Quebec, and attended a session called “the plastics conundrum.” Larger municipalities presented their strategies on single use plastics and initiatives such as reusable cigarette butt dispensers.
Bater noted every municipality had come to the same conclusion – that it was difficult for municipalities and it would be helpful to have a national strategy.
“This morning I woke up and heard there might be one,” said Bater, referring to the announcement on a federal strategy.
He said he didn’t know all the details yet but pledged to keep council in the loop about what might be happening.
“The recipe might sound good but the proof is in the pudding,” said Bater.
Councillor Kent Lindgren added cities should be proud of their role on the plastics issue.
“It has been cities leading this way,” said Lindgren.