Erin Hitchcock’s proposal that Williams Lake ban single-use plastics was received favourably by city council at the commitee of the whole meeting Tuesday. At its next regular meeting council will vote to receive her report and ask staff to draft a bylaw for further consideration. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Williams Lake city council keen on single-use plastic ban proposal

The idea was presented by a local resident who has also collected 1,300 signatures on a petition

A woman proposing Williams Lake move toward banning single-use plastics may get her wish.

Erin Hitchcock, who lives in the Miocene area, presented the idea to the committee off the whole Tuesday, July 9, and received a favourable response by all members of council.

Now council will vote at the next regular meeting to receive the report and ask staff to draft a bylaw for council’s further consideration.

“I am asking you to ban especially plastic bags, Styrofoam containers and straws if you are going to prioritize anything,” Hitchock said during her presentation, adding she also wants the ban to include compostable and biodegradable plastics because they take a special facility that is not in our region.

In April Hitchcock started a petition to ban single use plastics that has gathered just over 1,300 signatures.

Read more: Petition calls for single-use plastics ban in Williams Lake

“More than eight million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year,” she told council. “That’s about a dump truck every single minute. It’s been found in the deepest parts of the ocean all the way up to Mount Everest.”

Alternatives such as glass containers, water bottles and reusable bags are better options, she added.

“If you can remember to bring your keys, wallet and cell phone, you can take time to remember to bring your bags.”

Coun. Craig Smith thanked Hitchcock for the presentation and said he’s a big fan of the idea.

“I’ve talked to Erin about this before,” he said. “If we can start by getting rid of single-use plastic bags that would be a step in the right direction.”

Coun. Scott Nelson said micro-plastics that come out of plastic itself get into marine animals and drinking water.

“It’s a serious issue,” he said. “If you go to some of the dumps in our area, when the wind picks up you are lucky not to get a plastic bag in the face.”

Coun. Sheila Boehm, also endorsed the idea, and said she has approached City staff and talked with the City’s waste wise co-ordinator Mary Forbes about how City Hall can make some changes about its own plastic use.

“We could have some real strong guidelines, we have to lead by example,” Boehm said.

Coun. Ivan Bonnell said he would like to see the City discuss the initiative with the Cariboo Regional District as well.

After the meeting Hitchock said she was ecstatic with council’s response and looks forward to giving more input on the development of a bylaw.

“I’m mindful about where my packaging is going, and what I can use it for instead, and try to avoid packaging if I can,” she said when asked what changes she has made in her own life. “When I go into a restaurant to eat out, which isn’t very often, I do bring my reusable containers with me and I will fill them up if I have any leftovers.”

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