Plastic bag ban back on council agenda

Prince Albert city council is set to vote on reinstating the City’s plastic checkout bag bylaw at their next regular meeting on Monday.

If approved, the suspension will end on Oct. 12, 2021. All public health restrictions will end on July 11, but a report included in Monday’s agenda packaged by the City’s operations manager said the wait was necessary to help businesses prepare to switch over to paper bags.

Council originally suspended the bylaw on July 1, 2020 to give businesses more flexibility in dealing with COVID-19.

“Businesses were in the process of planning for the change when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the many retail outlets to offer plastic bags for free as a sanitary measure to reduce the handling of reusable bags, which was thought to contribute to the spread of COVID-19,” the report reads.

“Although health authorities have not issued recommendations on paper versus plastic, studies have suggested that COVID-19 can survive significantly longer on a plastic surface than on paper, which suggests that it is a hygienic option for single-use grocery bags.”

The report notes that some Prince Albert businesses have already started switching back to paper on their own initiative.

Once the suspension ends, Prince Albert businesses can be fined $500 for violating the bylaw. Fines increase to $1,000 for a second offence, and up to $10,000 for a third offence. Individuals can be fined $100 for a first time offence, $200 for a second offence, and up to $500 for a third offence.

Plastic bags can still be used for carrying fruits and vegetables, freshly prepared baking items, wrapped flowers or potted plants, fresh or frozen meat, and newspapers and other printed material, among other things.

The plastic bag bylaw suspension is just one of 12 reports from administration and committees up for debate at Monday’s meeting. The list includes updates to the Bicycle Bylaw and Traffic Bylaw, which were passed at the last executive committee meeting in June.

Council will also vote on a motion from Coun. Charlene Miller to consider installing a permanent public washroom in the downtown area. There will also be a delegation on hand for a presentation about the proposed group home on 130 Hadley Rd.

The meeting begins at 2 p.m. inside City Hall.

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