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Ban on single-use plastic shopping bags in Victoria expected to begin in July

A woman leaves a grocery store in Montreal, on May 15, 2015.

Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Victoria is the latest Canadian city to move ahead with a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags.

Councillors have given third reading to a bylaw that would fine businesses $100 if they sold or provided plastic bags.

Adoption of the bylaw is expected in early January and, if approved, it's to effect in July, with enforcement beginning in 2019.

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Businesses would be required to ask customers if they need a bag, and charge 15 cents for a paper bag, or $2 for a reusable one.

Bags used for packing bulk foods, dry cleaning or prescriptions would still be provided.

The Vancouver Island city of Nanaimo voted earlier this month to stop using plastic bags, but delayed further action while it determines if it has the authority to impose a ban.

Montreal is banning single-use plastic bags on Jan.1, and a website using content from the Canadian Plastics Industry Association says three communities in Quebec, two in Manitoba and one in Alberta already prohibit their use.

B.C.-based Greener Footprint Society, which focuses on waste reduction in Canada, says Canadians use between nine billion and 15 billion plastic bags every year, enough to circle the Earth more than 55 times.

Fraser Work, Victoria's engineering and public works director, says the bag ban in the B.C. capital has broad support.

"There's a lot of people in the city that are really excited about a move to rid ourselves of the millions of plastic bags that are going into the community and the hundreds of thousands of which are ending up in the landfill," he says.

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Victoria Coun. Jeremy Loveday says there are better options than single-use plastic.

"We would be really encouraging the reusable bags that can handle up to 100 uses or more," says Loveday.

Vancouver has not banned plastic bags, but as part of its 2040 Zero Waste Goal, it is drafting a strategy aimed at reducing or ending the use of single-use bags, coffee cups and takeout containers.

A final report on the zero waste strategy is due before council in 2018.

Black ice formed over a lake in British Columbia's Columbia Valley that allows skaters to see the bottom of the lake near the shore.
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