A petition calling on Williams Lake to ban single-use plastics is gaining momentum.
The brainchild of local resident Erin Hitchcock, the petition is available online and in paper copy. By Thursday, April 18, the online petition had gathered 244 signatures.
“The oceans are full of plastic, animals are dying from ingesting plastic,” Hitchcock said. “It needs to stop and it is completely unnecessary. We lived without plastic before the 1960s before it became widely available.”
She has read about whales being found full of plastic, even birds’ eggs containing plastic passed down through the mother.
“It’s absolutely disgusting and we don’t need it.”
The plan is to forward the petition to Williams Lake City Council urging them to support it.
Acting Mayor Craig Smith said he wants to support the single-use plastic ban, but could only speak on behalf of himself as a councillor.
“In doing my MBA one of our projects was to create a recycling company that would create bricks out of plastic bags,” he said. “We learned that 90.5 per cent of plastic in the world is not recycled — it is in landfills and there are seven drifts in oceans that are basically plastic garbage.”
Smith said he told Hitchcock that a person has to use a cotton grocery bag for 10 years to even out its impact even.
“Paper bags are a solution as well as vegetable cellulose bags that are good until they reach the landfill and the microbes break them down,” Smith said. “I told Erin I fully support what she is trying to do and it’s something I will bring to city council. Other city councils have created bylaws, but it has to be rolled out in phases.”
Hitchcock has started another petition for the Cariboo Regional District.
“The CRD cannot legally ban plastics, whereas the city can through a business regulation bylaw as the Supreme Court has ruled that cities can do that,” Hitchcock said. “But regional districts can definitely support municipalities that want to do bans or they can encourage them to do bans.”
There are other municipalities that are doing various single-use bans, including Victoria, and even Kamloops, she added.
Hitchcock is also organizing a peaceful Climate Action Rally on Earth Day, Monday, April 22 in Herb Gardner Park between City Hall and MLA Donna Barnett’s office on Oliver Street.
It will begin at 10:30 a.m. and last all day.
“I actually have a few more petitions asking the City and the CRD to declare a climate emergency,” she said. “It probably won’t happen, but at least it will get the awareness out there that climate change is very, very scary and it’s an emergency. The UN says we have less than 12 years to keep the global temperatures from rising one and half degrees.”
She said 22 municipalities in Canada have declared a climate change emergency.
“There are lots of solutions — it’s not all gloom and doom,” she added. “I believe that we as a community can find ways to make things better. We don’t have to be divisive. It’s not jobs versus the environment. It takes people’s will, government’s will.”