06/07/2012 10:25 EDT | Updated 08/07/2012 05:12 EDT

Plastic Bag Ban Not Possible For B.C. Cities


Any hopes of Vancouver following Toronto’s lead in banning plastic shopping bags are being played down because B.C. cities don’t have the authority, local politicians say.

Councillors in the country’s largest city passed its bylaw Wednesday, citing the fact that 250 million of the bags end up in Toronto garbage landfills every year. The law takes effect in 2013.

In the Lower Mainland, it’s estimated that plastic shopping bags account for less than one per cent of the landfill.

But such a ban in B.C. is beyond the reach of municipalities and because it would be under provincial jurisdiction.

“We don't have that discussion because we don't have the ability to actually bring in the ban, so it's a very theoretical discussion,” said Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer.

It's not theoretical for many other cities.

Last December, Seattle voted to remove the bags from stores starting July 1. Six other municipalities in Washington also have banned the bags.

They join other West Coast cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland, Ore.

Countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Rwanda and Italy also have banished plastic bags.

Vancouver councillor Tim Stevenson spearheaded a motion to ban the bags from the city in 2008, but the province vetoed the plan.

“If in 2008 we had dealt with it ... we would have been a leader rather than johnny-come-lately, as it is now,” Stevenson said Thursday.

Premier Christy Clark would not say definitively if a ban or a shift of authority to local governments is in the works.

“If we decide we want to deal with it, it's something we're hopefully deal with within the next year,” Clark said.

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