We’ve got an eye on you  /  George Le Masurier photo

The Week: local bag bans support nation, global effort; these politicians go low

Jun 13, 2019 | Commentary

By George Le Masurier

The City of Courtenay is poised to pass a single-use plastic bag ban next week that will go into effect next March 31. The city joins the Village of Cumberland, which already approved a bag ban in March to go into effect next January.

Still to come, perhaps, is similar action from the Comox Valley Regional District and the Town of Comox, which is still waiting for a report from its staff.

Although Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau announced a nationwide ban “as early as” 2021, the same year a bag ban goes into effect in the European Union, it is important for small communities like the Comox Valley to keep banning the bags in their jurisdictions.

And it’s important for consumers to embrace this change now. Everyone can start using reusable bags, and refusing plastic whenever possible. Don’t buy plastic water bottles. Buy sodas or juices that come in cans, not plastic containers.

Trudeau’s announcement is only a promise. He might not win the next election, or he might not follow through. He’s ditched campaign promises before, notably electoral reform.

So, congrats to Cumberland and Courtenay, and what are you — Comox and CVRD — waiting for? The public tide has already turned against plastics. And for good reason.

Less than 10 percent of all plastics are recycled. Think about that, about all the plastic wrapping you see and consume in grocery and other retail stores. The rest plugs up our landfills and pollutes our waterways, eventually breaking down into tiny bits that get eaten by fish, birds and other animals. That plastic makes it way into our own bodies through the food chain.

 

How low will they go?

It’s been obvious for some time that Comox Councillors Ken Grant and Maureen Swift, along with Mayor Russ Arnott, care little about giving a fair hearing to legitimate public concerns.

Now, it appears, they are willing to disrespect their own elected official colleagues to carry out petty vendettas.

It was clear to everyone at this week’s sewage commission meeting that the three Courtenay directors wanted to wait until the next meeting when CFB Representative, Major Delta Guerard, was present.

But Grant and Arnott made a motion anyway, one they opposed, just so they could defeat it. Clever political maneuver, but a knife in the back of their colleagues around the table.

The meeting showed how low Arnott, Grant and Swift are willing to sink.

It’s not a coincidence the trio votes against every request for Area B representation on the Courtenay-Comox Sewage Commission. They also vote in a block to support all attempts to locate sewer infrastructure in somebody else’s backyard.

It would be more useful if Comox commissioners came up with valid reasons to deny Area B representation. To date, they’ve claimed that it was against the Local Government Act — which it wasn’t — and then that our previous Area B director had lied to the commission — which he hadn’t.

Now, the best Arnott can muster is that it’s an “emotional” issue.

There’s a reason the Town of Comox faces the potential for two costly defeats in BC Supreme Court over the next six months, but Arnott, Grant and Swift just don’t get it.

Comox shellfish contaminated

Did you know the entire Comox Harbour area is permanently closed for shellfish harvesting? Sanitary contamination of the area means that consumption of shellfish here presents a serious health hazard. There have already been two emergency notices issued by the DFO about illness from contaminated shellfish.

Probable sources of the fecal contamination include the Town of Comox’s stormwater management system, marinas and boaters and pets and wildlife.

That makes Comox an ironic choice to host the BC Seafood Festival, which is highly supported by fish farms and other aquaculture industry interests.

 

Creating smoke-free public parks

Congrats to Courtenay Councillor Melanie McCollum for proposing a citywide ban on smoking tobacco, cannabis and vaping products in public parks.

Other BC communities, such as Duncan, Metro Vancouver and North Vancouver, have already taken this step.

McCollum points out the danger of wildfires from carelessly discarded of lighted products, but the health risks of second-hand smoke and hampering the ability of people to enjoy a smoke-free outdoors experience also justify her proposal.

 

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