Tofino, Ucluelet officially ban plastic bags and straws

Surfrider Pacific Rim cheers unified decision.

Tofino and Ucluelet’s councils formalized a peninsula-wide single-use plastic ban last week by officially adopting unified bylaws that prohibit businesses in either town from providing plastic bags or straws to customers.

“It was easy,” Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel told the Westerly News. “Everybody knows it’s the right thing and it was an easy one for us to do.”

He added that adopting the ban in unison with Tofino shows a synchronized voice and boosts the West Coast’s potential impact as a role model to other regions.

“We can really show some leadership in this arena,” he said. “It’s hard for them not to buy in and start to jump on the bandwagon because we show them how easy it is.”

Tofino mayor Josie Osborne said many West Coast businesses have already eliminated plastic bags and straws thanks to the consistently robust efforts of Surfrider Pacific Rim and suggested the formal ban will bring “the last few holdouts” on board.

“Laws and regulations are most successful when they represent the will of the majority of society and the tide is really turning when it comes to reducing and eliminating unnecessary plastic products,” she said. “In some senses, this bylaw is symbolic, but it is still important because it signals local government support and leadership in reducing the use of single-use plastics and it also validates the very hard work of people committed to making a positive change.”

She echoed Noel’s sentiment around the West Coast having a role to play in encouraging other areas to put similar bans in place.

“This is all about eliminating unnecessary plastics from our daily lives, and helping people become more aware of the insidiousness of single-use plastics. Steps like these, as small as they seem, help inspire larger changes in behaviour as well and, ultimately, I think that is what we hope to accomplish with this small step,” she said. “As well, if tiny towns like Tofino and Ucluelet can do this, in partnership with organizations like Surfrider, other towns can too. We also hope to incentivize other communities to work with community and business organizations to reduce the use of single-use plastics.”

Surfrider Pacific Rim chapter manager Lilly Woodbury said the ban’s adoption in both towns was met with “a mix of feeling excited and feeling proud of the Mayor and Councils, along with their dedicated staff team, who took the leap to pass the regulation and commit to banning both plastic straws and bags.”

She added that local businesses, residents and youth all played an important role in promoting the ban and that it sends a strong message to other municipal leaders across the province.

“Tofino and Ucluelet are the first municipalities to ban plastic straws in B.C., and we can be certain that this is opening up a pathway for other B.C. communities to follow suit,” she said.

She added the ban has the potential to spread awareness worldwide as it will spark conversations amongst the town’s visitors.

“It’s going to create incredible awareness around the pollution that single-use plastics cause, from summer employees to the massive influx of tourists who will visit businesses and learn about the bans,” she said.

“As we know, the issues extend far beyond bags and straws, but this crucial step will bring awareness to the consumption and management of all other single-use plastics and plastic products more generally.”

She said Surfrider plans to continue working with West Coast leaders to eliminate other commonplace single-use plastics, like coffee cups, water bottles, cutlery, and styrofoam cups.

Noel said supporting active organizations like Surfrider is paramount.

“I think it’s our job, as the elected, to ensure we support these groups and their initiatives and not pop their balloon and say that they’re crazy,” he said. “We need to support any kind of group that’s passionate about something in our community. We need to support them and let them run with it.”



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: Tofino casts bylaw banning plastic bags and straws

READ MORE: Tofino working on bylaw to restrict single-use plastics

READ MORE: Plastic bag spill exposes gruesome collage of ocean pollution around Tofino and Ucluelet

Just Posted

Celtic folk festival favourites Early Spirit live at Tractorgrease in Chilliwack

Vancouver-based folk-rock band caps off stellar year with live performance in Chilliwack on Dec. 28

Three Chilliwack entrepreneurs finalists for Small Business BC Awards

Woodside Enterprises, Pick Eco Refills and Culture Co. could win in different categories

Six impaired drivers nabbed in Chilliwack RCMP CounterAttack campaign

Officers were set up on Yale Road overpass on Dec. 7

Fish farm foes take heart from pledge to take aquaculture out of B.C. waters

PM sets timeline for five years to transition fish farming out of ocean in B.C.

New arts-technology focused high school coming to Chilliwack for 2021

Education Minister announces $15.4 million and January construction start for new southside school

VIDEO: These are the top toys this Christmas, B.C. toy experts say

Consider the play value of a game, staff at Toy Traders say

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Surrey councillor wants the policing transition process to ‘immediately stop’

Brenda Locke to make motion at Dec. 16 meeting to reconsider current plan

Man pleads guilty to second-degree murder in 2017 Stanley Park stabbing

Lubomir Kunik was found by a man out walking his dog on the beach late on Feb. 1, 2017

Vancouver homeless camp brings community, safety, home, says resident

Encampment in the city’s Downtown Eastside is one of many that have sprung up in B.C.

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Most Read