A potential ban of plastic single-use water bottles is being raised again to City of Powell River council after it received letters from residents and a recommendation from the city’s youth council.
Letters received at council’s Tuesday, March 14, committee of the whole meeting from Powell River residents Trish Cocksedge and Esther Dyck inquired about the committee’s August 2015 direction for city staff to provide a report on what would be necessary to put a ban on the sale of single-serve bottled water.
“I am writing to request that council encourage staff to provide this report and recommendation in an expedient manner,” wrote Cocksedge. “The issues surrounding the use of plastic containers, their manufacturing process, their disposal in landfill waste sites and the cumulative effect on climate change have not lessened in the past year and a half.”
Dyck’s letter points out the wastefulness of the bottles given the high quality of Powell River’s water supply.
“We are so fortunate here in Powell River to have such wonderful, safe, clean water right from our taps,” she wrote. “Corporations have been allowed by our government to extract millions of litres of our most precious resource, fresh water, then they sell it back to us for a profit, leaving us with mountain-high piles of nature-destroying plastic bottles.”
Meanwhile, the city’s youth council is also taking a stand on the issue. Youth council recommended to its adult counterparts that due to the impact of plastic water bottles, the city needs to step up and stop selling them at Powell River Recreation Complex and city hall.
City parks, recreation and culture director Ray Boogaards is expected to provide a report on the sale of water bottles in April.
In February 2016, Powell River resident Abby McLennan, speaking on behalf of the local Surfrider Foundation chapter, made a presentation to council regarding a petition to stop single-use plastic bags.
At the time, McLennan told council that plastic shopping bags are being used at an alarming rate and often end up in the landfill or environment, causing damaging effects to beaches and wildlife.
City staff was directed to look into and prepare a report on how the city could undertake the ban, but the item has sat on its to-do list since then, along with the plastic bottle issue.
Councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said the issue of plastic waste remains important to her.
“I’m not used to sitting back and waiting for someone else to do this for me,” she said.
While the issue may still be important for Leishman, items to do with plastic waste have not been flagged and prioritized by the committee as of yet.
McLennan said she is just happy the issue of plastic waste remains on the city’s to-do list. She added that larger municipalities in Vancouver and Victoria have tried to take on the issue and found that solutions have been hard to come by.
“It’s a win that the ban is even still a consideration,” she said. “It’s a really complicated issue.”
Since McLennan’s presentation, many of Powell River’s larger retailers have moved away from providing plastic bags free of charge.
McLennan said she is pleased to see local retailers taking their own action and charging for the bags sends a signal to consumers that they have an environmental impact.
“It’s a proactive approach,” she said.
McLennan is also a member of the Let’s Talk Trash team, contracted by Powell River Regional District to provide public education on issues surrounding solid waste.
She said the group would like to see an all around plastic reduction in the region’s waste.