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Oak Bay bans single-use plastic bags starting Nov. 24

Oak Bay will phase out single-use plastic bags by late November. On Monday, council adopted a bylaw forbidding businesses from giving out single-use plastic checkout bags to their customers after Nov. 24.
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Victoria, Saanich and Esquimalt already have bylaws forbidding businesses from giving out single-use plastic checkout bags to their customers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Oak Bay will phase out single-use plastic bags by late November.

On Monday, council adopted a bylaw forbidding businesses from giving out single-use plastic checkout bags to their customers after Nov. 24.

The measure mirrors similar bylaws already in place in Victoria, Saanich and Esquimalt.

“These changes will help reduce plastic waste in our community and our landfills,” Mayor Kevin Murdoch said in a statement.

The bylaw also requires businesses to charge a minimum fee for paper and reusable bags. For the first year, the minimum fee for each paper bag will be $0.15, and $1 for each reusable bag. After that, the fees will increase to $0.25 for paper bags and $2 for reusable bags.

Businesses will not charge for small paper bags, such as those commonly used by pharmacies to package prescription drugs. Other exemptions include bags for packaging loose bulk items, small hardware items and some food products and flowers.

The six-month transition period will give business time to adjust and prepare, said the statement, but residents are being encouraged to switch now to reusable bags, and some businesses have already stopped using plastic checkout bags.

Oak Bay Pharmasave stopped using plastic bags two or three years ago, said manager Jason Skrenka.

“It’s long overdue,” said Skrenka.”We did it ourselves. It seems like one municipality does it, then another follows, so by then everyone is used to it. We don’t get any backlash because no one is using plastic bags anyway. The businesses have basically done it themselves.”

Many Oak Bay residents shop at Save-on Foods and they haven’t had plastic bags for a while, he noted. “People got used to it really quickly.”

Fairway Market spokeswoman Jen Loo said the ban on single-use plastic bags at their stores in Victoria, Nanaimo and Saanich has worked out well.

“Our customers are very receptive to it and many, many had already started that before the changeover. We’re basically following suit with all the municipalities. Oak Bay, West Shore and the peninsula are the ones that haven’t switched over yet,” said Loo.

Oak Bay residents Jill and Gord Milne said Wednesday they are 100 per cent behind the ban.

“I still feel a little guilty when I take a head of lettuce and put it in a small plastic bag,” said Jill Milne, who has been buying more expensive silicone reusable bags to cut down on waste.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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