Bylaw banning single-use plastic bags on Monday’s city council agenda

Prince Albert City Hall -- Herald File Photo.

A bylaw that would see the ban of single-use plastic checkout bags is set to come before City Council on Monday.

Back in April, council requested a report regarding the feasibility of banning the sale of single-use plastic retail bags. A follow-up report was presented to executive committee in October, at which point the council members passed a resolution that a bylaw be drafted to prohibit businesses within city limits to distribute single-use plastic bags effective April 1 of next year.

In a July survey, 75 per cent of residents supported a ban on plastic checkout bags. A consultation with local businesses did not raise any major concerns. Some stores indicated they were already planning to phase out plastic bags.

The bylaw, which administration recommends be given all three readings Monday, would cover plastic checkout bags distributed by retail or food services businesses. It would exempt:

  • plastic bags used to carry fruits or vegetables,
  • bags containing fresh or frozen meat, poultry or fish products,
  • bulk food or bulk hardware bags,
  • bags fro freshly-prepared bakery items or other food items that are not prepackaged,
  • wrapped flowers or potted plants,
  • bags for clothes following drycleaning,
  • newspaper or other printed material bags,
  • ziplock bags,
  • garbage bags and
  • bags used to transport live fish

 from the ban. There would be a six-month grace period to allow for educational materials to be distributed to residents, for businesses to wind down their use of bags and to allow people time to adjust.

“Every bag – whether plastic or reusable – has an environmental impact. The magnitude of single-use plastic waste is a specific concern due to its negative impact on the Prince Albert Regional Landfill, the City’s waste collection systems, local environment and overall cleanliness of our community,” city staff wrote in a report accompanying the bylaw.

“If the City proceeds with the Bylaw, then we will be the first City in Saskatchewan to implement a plastic Checkout Bag ban and will become a role model to other regions.

Ward review complete

Next year’s city elections will see new ward boundaries.

Earlier this year, the Municipal Wards Commission began reviewing the city’s ward boundaries as required by provincial legislation. The commission filed its final report on Nov. 25. The new boundaries are effective “immediately,” the report said.

The ward review sees the city’s population divided by the number of wards. Each ward must be divided so that its population is no more than ten per cent different from that divided population number.

Using health population statistics, the estimated population of each ward is 5,104, an increase of 1,912 from the 2016 census count, and an estimated 40,832 total population.

The commission found that each ward needed boundary changes to bring them as close as possible to the 5,104 mark while allowing for future growth.

The commission decided that Ward 1 (the city’s western-most) be expanded because its population had shrunk since the last review and is not expected to grow in the next ten years.

Ward 2, which covers the area north of the river and the downtown area, was also expanded due to population decline. Some room for population growth was considered if the new downtown University of Saskatchewan campus leads to more people moving into the area.

The size of Ward 3 was decreased as it saw an increase in people, as did Wards 7 and 8. Ward 5 was also shrunk to allow for future growth.

Ward 4 was increased, as was Ward 6. That ward also saw Pereverzoff Place, Kwasnica place, Dier Road, Lamb’s Lane, Thomson Bay and Oliver Way combined into one ward. Previously, that neighbourhood voted in two different wards.

Despite holding an extensive public consultation, the commission received only six letters and no in-person submissions. Three of those letters supported the proposed changes, and three expressed concerns. The submissions said that Ward 2 seemed to benefit more, complained that all West Hill residents should be in one ward, not split into two, and argued that boundary changes are “continually necessary.”

The final report is set to be received and filed by council during Monday’s meeting.