Politicians support plastic ban at youth-organized climate panel

A ban on some plastics emerged as a goal shared by the mayor of Gibsons and chair of the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) at a Saturday climate panel hosted by students involved in organizing climate change rallies on the Sunshine Coast.

The issue was raised late in the June 8 meeting, when student organizer Eilis MacKenzie asked Gibsons Mayor Bill Beamish to clarify what plastics would be considered if the Town moves ahead with a ban, something that was discussed by the previous council in 2018.

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“We should ban single-use plastic bags,” said Beamish, adding that it might not mean a ban on plastic bags altogether. “My personal target would be to encourage council to bring a bylaw into effect that bans plastic bags by Dec. 31, 2019. That gives those stores right now an opportunity to go through the stock they have purchased this year… and to consider how they will replace that stock into the new year. We don’t want it to be an economic hit on people.”

He also referenced a business walk planned for June to find out how businesses would be affected by a ban on single-use plastics.

SCRD chair Lori Pratt, meanwhile, said she too was “in full support of plastics bans,” and that local governments are keeping an eye on developments in Victoria, where the city is facing a court challenge by the Canadian Plastic Bag Association after it banned single-use plastic bags. 

Politicians also addressed student strikes held at Davis Bay Pier on a handful of Fridays since March. Sechelt Mayor Darnelda Siegers thanked the students, before conceding she had publicly questioned their actions. “I questioned whether you were just protesting, because in my world, yes, government has a role, organizations have a role, but we each as individuals have a role as well.”

Other politicians commended the students without reservation. “Don’t apologize,” said Beamish. “People see you standing in the streets and think that you’re blocking traffic – don’t apologize, that’s how you get attention.” Beamish also emphasized the importance of making “personal commitments,” such as refusing to accept plastic containers. “Go over there to the Petro-Can and get a slushy and don’t take all the plastic cups with it, take your own cup.”

MLA Nicholas Simons and Gibsons Coun. Annemarie De Andrade also attended the event, which was held at Elphinstone Secondary School and drew an audience of about three dozen, about a third of which were students. West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country MP Pamela Goldsmith Jones missed the event but sent a statement.

Organizers Eilis MacKenzie and Siera Marits sought answers on waste disposal, transit, water use and provincial policy, after the politicians gave their opening statements.

During a question period, one student asked what more students “who recognize global warming as an overshadowing, grave threat” could do to “actually make an impact.”

The question was directed at De Andrade, who offered the most extreme statements about climate change, telling students that climate change is about the “survival of our species,” and that they should prioritize pressuring the federal government to make policy changes, rather than local change. “We can all go home and try to be the best in terms of individual action, but I’ll tell you the truth – this is not enough.”

Siegers recommended getting involved in federal campaigns, while Pratt responded, “Call us out.”


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