Councillors in Gibsons are looking at ways to curb the amount of material headed to the landfill, which the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) says could run out of space as early as 2025.
One strategy is a ban on single-use items, such as plastic bags, which council has had on its radar for a couple of years.
Tuesday night, council passed first reading of a bylaw that would limit or ban businesses from handing out single-use checkout bags or plastic drinking straws.
Council also voted to send the bylaw back to committee to consider adding other items and fine-tune some of the regulations and exemptions before going forward with second reading.
Chief administrative officer Emanuel Machado acknowledged that the approach up to now “has been a very ineffective way to make policy” because councillors have been debating a bylaw that hadn’t yet been drafted simultaneously with staff and consultants researching the background issues.
The motion for first reading also committed the Town to working with the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) on a public education program to get people to reduce single-use items and to approach the District of Sechelt about a harmonized approach to regulation.
Former councillor Silas White, now a consultant with Impact Resolutions, has been working with the Town on the bylaw proposal.
He said at the committee meeting earlier in the day that the bylaw as currently drafted already puts Gibsons on the leading edge. “A bylaw that has straws and checkout bags in it is already ahead of a lot of municipalities that are moving in this direction. Even the City of Vancouver isn’t doing that yet,” he said.
The other step council is making toward reducing the strain on the landfill is considering adding new enforcement measures to the garbage and organics collection bylaw.
A report prepared for the Nov. 5 committee of the whole meeting says there have been regular incidents “where individuals fail to secure their collectable garbage, resulting in wildlife accessing it and then strewing it around.”
The report says “in the majority of these cases recyclables are frequently seen, indicating that no recycling is occurring at certain addresses.”
The Town’s bylaw officer is recommending an amendment to the bylaw to make it an offence to place “items that could be recycled in the regular garbage collection destined for the landfill” to curb the problem.
Several councillors also said they’d like to see the bylaw amendment include organics as well as regular recyclables.
If the amendments are adopted, the bylaw department would take an “education first” approach but would have the option of fining chronic offenders $100.