An attempt by councillors to “soften” a request to ban some single-use plastics was successful, allowing the Town to move forward with eliminating such materials at its own facilities, operations and events.
The amendment favoured by councillors means the conversation with private business owners will begin as one of encouragement, rather than dictating what they must do.
The change in wording didn’t come with approval from Coun. Norm Arsenault, who first made his motion requesting the ban and his case to support it during the May 13 council meeting.
However as the meeting wrapped up, to be reconvened Saturday, it was suggested he reconsider.
He had presented a plan for prohibiting single-use straws, stir sticks and utensils, saying he was hoping for unanimous support.
Although councillors applauded his intentions and said they agreed with the need to do something positive, several indicated concern with the idea of forcing the ban on businesses in town and suggested he would have to revise the wording of his motion to earn their support.
During a short presentation, Arsenault had told them, “climate change is real,” and getting worse, backing up the need for change with alarming statistics.
His motion, he said, would begin the process of “correcting a wrong that is of our own making.”
On Saturday morning, Arsenault said he would like a vote on his original motion. But first, Coun. Clare Cameron suggested an amendment.
“The best bet of getting this started is if we start with ourselves,” she said.
She suggested an amendment that would have staff look first at presenting alternatives to single-use plastics at municipal facilities, operations and events, “anything within our control.”
She would then like consultation with businesses to encourage alternatives, without dictating to them about what they could do, she said.
Arsenault said he would like the motion to remain the way it was written, indicating staff would look at municipal facilities first, but eventually, after consultation, would get to the point of banning the materials at businesses as well.
“This would be considerably watered down,” he said of the amendment, which was supported by Cameron and Couns. Gary Burroughs, Wendy Cheropita, Erwin Wiens and John Wiens.
Arsenault, Couns. Allan Bisback and Stuart McCormack, along with Lord Mayor Betty Disero, voted against the amendment, which passed, and then all but McCormack voted in favour of the amended motion.
McCormack said he couldn’t support it, although he found the goal “rather laudable.”
“We’re continually hearing staff is stretched on resources and I question whether this should be a priority for staff at this time,” he said.
Since the Province is also looking at the issue of banning some plastics, and has far more resources and legislative jurisdiction to deal with it, having the municipality also looking at a ban would seem like duplication, he said, and he would like to see periodic updates from staff in regard to what the Province is doing.