Iqaluit councillors discuss banning single-use plastic bags

Draft bylaw still needs to pass council vote

A draft bylaw to ban single-use plastic bags will make its way to Iqaluit city council chambers for a vote, although there is no timeline yet for when it will happen. (File photo)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Single-use plastic bags may soon be a thing of the past in Iqaluit.

The city’s economic development officer, Geoff Byrne, presented a draft bylaw to city councillors Tuesday that would ban the use of such bags within the municipality. The bylaw will need to go through three readings and a vote in council in order to pass.

“I think there’s widespread support for this, I think everybody will get on board with this fairly easily. It’s not an overly costly endeavour for anyone to implement,” Coun. Kyle Sheppard said during the strategic planning and economic development committee meeting.

The draft Plastic Bag Reduction Bylaw states that no business, including not-for-profits and trade shows that come to Iqaluit, will be allowed to distribute single-use plastic bags.

The ban would not extend to single-use plastic packaging for loose or bulk foods, such as those for fruits and vegetables, frozen foods, meat or fish and baked goods.

It also wouldn’t include various other single-use plastic bags that are used to wrap flowers or plants and protect bedding, and clothes after dry cleaning.

It’s meant to be a baseline bylaw the city will use when it begins banning other single-use plastic items, such as plastic plates, cups and forks, said Byrne.

Fines can range from $1,000 for a corporation’s first offence in a year to $2,500 for its fourth offence. For individuals, it can range from $250 to $1,000 for the same parameters.

There is not an exact timeline of when the bylaw would be enforced, but some council members want it to happen as soon as possible.

Deputy mayor Solomon Awa used mask-wearing as an example of how quickly people can adjust to a new rule.

“It didn’t take that long to get ourselves used to that,” he said. “[I’m] hoping that this [bylaw] goes on sooner than later. We’re talking about the environment. We’re talking about human health.”

Byrne, who presented the draft bylaw, said businesses will need time to adjust, as most of their shipments of bags come in through sealift.

The pandemic also altered the way many people do business, Byrne pointed out.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we weren’t allowed to use reusable bags,” he said. “So at the time, it wouldn’t have been a sound business decision for any of these organizations to order these bags to have when they weren’t actually able to distribute them.”

Mayor Kenny Bell said council passed the original motion to create this bylaw around two years ago, and the city has gone through a consultation process since then, so he believes Iqaluit’s business community has had ample time to adjust to the change.

“I’m not worrying about their sealift,” said Bell. “They had two years to do it.”

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(15) Comments:

  1. Posted by Iqaluit shopper on

    Kenny Bell seems intent on making life more difficult for residents of Iqaluit with every new sjw cause he foisted on us. I fully intend to do my part making him a one term mayor.

    • Posted by iRoll on

      Get real, pollution is not a “sjw cause” …

  2. Posted by Northener on

    Everyone i no reuses the bags in smaller garbage cans around the house, so they’re not single use. Getting rid of them means im buying smaller plastic garbage bags to fill the needs of my smaller garbage cans. Therefore creating the same amount of plastic bags for the landfill

    • Posted by Tax payer on

      And do something about all the emtpy beer cans that litter the side of the road !!

  3. Posted by Pain In The Groen on

    It was only a few years ago they said the switch was coming at some point and both Ventures and North Mart both started charging for bags. Ventures even switched to biodegradable bags. The bags that would disintegrate into dust if you left it in your drawer or cupboard too long. The biodegradable bag disappeared when the Co-op bought them.

    It isn’t an SJW cause, it’s the right thing to do and it’s about time.

    Oh, and I highly doubt anyone uses every single plastic shopping bag they get to fill small garbage cans.

  4. Posted by Distractions on

    Another gesture by Kenny and council meant to detract from what has been a mediocre run at best. It is a complete joke that the biohazard that is the Iqaluit dump, and literally an entire city full of contaminated earth to varying degrees, is not addressed at all and they would hone in on plastic bags. Ventures and North Mart will hear this and ad 50% to what are otherwise 300% inflated plastic bag prices.

    • Posted by Goat on

      Mediocre. This mayor is not to blame for any of the issues currently faced by the city. It was the mayor before him and the mayor before her. He is single handedly the greatest thing to happen to this town. He’ll tell you himself, Just look at his Twitter for all his self-promotion. Eliminating plastic bags just puts more money into the hands of business and away from folks who are already struggling. Perhaps a bit of research would have helped prior to this decision?

  5. Posted by Andy on

    I assume you have too much time to discuss items that could be pushed back further. Live in the moment and look after Iqaluit as you should:
    1. Fix the roads as promised last year. Nothing, absolutely nothing was done. (except a few patches which will turn into victims of the snowplow)
    2. Install more garbage bins and of course empty them. Place them in strategic places, not just in the downtown core. Place them on the Plateau, Happy Valley, RTN, etc.
    3. Clean the city. I did not see any city worker being out on the land, streets or in the garbage packed streams to pick up any item. Do not only give out garbage bags and expect the citizens to clean it.
    Even though the garbage was produced not necessarily by the city (unless you dropped the ball again with the pick up), but you have the obligation to do so.
    4. Control the roads and city. There are way too many intoxicated people walking and driving in the city. Step away from the Mo-Fr 08:00 to 17:00 hours schedule.

    Once you have looked after these items, I gladly applaud you for tackling plastic bags and items

  6. Posted by Snappy 20 on

    Hamlet distracting the public with a minor issue. I’m more interested in why my taxes might go up so large corporations can get a tax break. The city property tax by-law is illegal. Or why I’ll get a bill from the city for fire department service if my house burns down. I have insurance, thanks. What do they think bills like that do to insurance rates? Or why isn’t the city developing building lots that are desperately needed to solve our housing crisis? But sure, tell us more about plastic bags.

  7. Posted by shopper 1 on

    Iqaluit City Council has been discussing this for at least the past 15 years.
    And Northmart has started charging 25 cents per bag, again. It’s one of their most profitable product. About as profitable as the distressed merchandise they get for free and sell.

  8. Posted by Tax payer on

    So people who still use the small white bags to throw their garbage will not have to use the larger bags.
    Yes I know, it’s already a city by-laws but poor people use those bags instead of buying large garbage bags.

    • Posted by Doesnt make sense on

      Your argument is rediculous. You can buy a box of 100 plastic bags for $9 at the northern. That is cheaper than 25 cents a bag. Plus those are better cause they don’t rip and tear the same way grocery bags do.

      • Posted by Tax payer on

        Can’t remember the last time I will as billed for a bag at northmart, ventures and DJs.
        Your asking poor people to buy bags instead of using the FREE bags that are being handed out.
        Also small bags wont be picked up by the city. They will need th expensive large black/green bags.

  9. Posted by KMO on

    Our local grocery store stopped the plastic bags several years ago. I’m terrible at remembering to take cloth bags so I made a deal with myself that every time I forgot I would have to buy one. I ended up with a pile of new bags. Then I found out about the environmental impact of cloth bags … shipping and manufacturing and dyes etc etc.
    So I gave up on that. And Now ….
    I get a cart …. I go through the till … I put everything back in the cart … I go to the truck … put everything in the truck somehow (box/bags/loose) … I go home … I grab a handful of things … go in the house … come back with bags or box … you get the rest.
    Its easy to get used to. I have not taken a bag from any store for any reason in years. Not even … 1.
    As for using the bags for garbage … as many do … hows about selling the bags by the roll on the cheap for use as garbage bags.
    Quick check …. 1500 bags for aprx 30 usd … or .02 cents per bag.
    Other types of garbage bags cost significantly more and use a lot more plastic and shipping resources.
    Just sayin.

    • Posted by Lucky you on

      Not everyone has a vehicle. I wonder how a cab driver would feel if I had to dump $500 worth of loose food in his car and wait while I make 10 trips into my house with the groceries. Good on you for doing so though:)

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