Two surfing towns on Vancouver Island’s far west coast are about to take a major step toward environmental protection.
The municipalities of Tofino and Ucluelet have banded together to draft unified bylaws which will ban single-use plastic straws and bags.
“Other municipalities are on their way to do it,” said Lilly Woodbury with the Pacific Rim Surfrider Foundation. “But this will be the first bylaw to come into effect.”
Woodburn is specifically referencing plastic straws when she mentions the milestone moment.
Other cities, including Victoria, have successfully banned single-use plastic bags, but Tofino and Ucluelet will become the first B.C. centres to do away with plastic straws.
Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne tells CTV News that enforcement will come slowly. “The bylaw comes into force on June 8 – World Oceans Day – and we are requesting voluntary compliance at first, with enforcement and fines coming Jan. 1, 2020.”
Local businesses will likely face little shock on Saturday when the bylaws become reality.
Local governments drafted the bylaws to do away with the single-use plastics, but this movement began far before it entered council chambers.
The Surfrider conservation group began by canvassing businesses and asking them if they wanted to make the change away from plastics.
“The 'straws suck' campaign began in 2016 with the goal of getting all businesses on the coast to comply,” Woodbury said.
“In doing that we were able to address their challenges and hear what issues they had.”
According to the West Coast chapter of the organization, almost 100 per cent of businesses contacted voluntarily gave up plastic straws and bags before the bylaw was finalized.
Surfrider will be offering local businesses free recycling for any remaining straws and plastic bags on Friday evening.
Surfrider says its success with this campaign has the group taking aim at single-use plastic cutlery, which it maintains is a major issue in the tourism-based communities.