The Town of Lunenburg is requesting staff to collaborate with stakeholders in drafting a bylaw banning single-use plastics.
Council passed the motion on Feb. 26 following a presentation from Plastic Free Lunenburg (PFL), a community group which has been working in town to ban single-use plastics since 2018.
Teresa Quilty, a PFL member, said the group presented an update to council after several public consultation sessions and to ask for the town’s input.
“We wanted to impress upon them that it’s really important that we get stakeholders participating over the next month,” she said. “It’s fantastic that they directed staff to work with us.”
PFL is expected to present a final report to council — including recommendations and a bylaw draft — in early April.
Quilty said the hope is to adopt a bylaw by July 1st, 2019 but it would not be enforced until Jan. 1, 2020.
“We don’t want to put any businesses under duress. We believe that with the timeline’s were proposing, we’ll give everybody time to use up any current stock they have and really get ready for next year,” she said.
However, Quilty noted that the timelines are subject to change following input from stakeholders over the next month.
And if the town council were to pass the bylaw and implement the suggested timelines, Lunenburg would have a ban in place well before HRM’s December deadline.
Quilty added that unlike HRM, Lunenburg is looking to implement a potential ban on several varieties of single-use plastics.
Banned items could include plastic straws, cutlery, bags and more.
According to the update provided to council, the majority of people surveyed by PFL supported a wider plastics ban.
Ninety-seven per cent of people supported a ban of plastic straws by June 1st, 2019; 65 per cent wanted cups, containers and lids banned by the same date.
“It’s been a lot of work,” said Quilty of the consultation process. “To have our council come on and participate is really fantastic. We see it as a strong vote of confidence in what we are doing.”
And other communities across the South Shore have taken notice.
PFL was recently invited to present before the Mahone Bay council and has also been in contact with Bridgewater, Shelburne and Chester.
Quilty said she would like to see Mahone Bay adopt the same bylaw as Lunenburg given the proximity between the two towns.
The move, she said, would offer a consistent experience to tourists.
When asked about what it would mean to see a single-use plastics ban across the South Shore, Quilty said people want change and that the scale of communities like Lunenburg allows them to lead by example.
“While we may be smaller in numbers, we’re more agile than larger communities,” she said.
Representatives from the Town of Lunenburg were contacted for this story but were unable to reply in time for publication.