Single-use plastics in Dawson City are out as of April 22.
Town council passed a bylaw banning single use plastics in February. The ban covers plastic bags (including produce bags and grocery bags), plastic straws and utensils along with plastic and Styrofoam takeout containers.
“We’re doing what we can to reduce our impact,” Mayor Wayne Potoroka said in a March 2 interview.
He added the bylaw will benefit the town by keeping unnecessary items out of the landfill, thus extending the life of the landfill.
Town officials started work on drafting the bylaw and public consultations in the fall of 2019, though Potoroka said the effort started years ago with businesses in town often leading the way.
Recalling a time in his own youth when paper was the only bagging option at grocery stores, he called the change a little “back to the future”.
A number of shops in Dawson stopped offering plastic bags a long time ago, forcing customers to bring their own cloth bags or simply carry their purchases out, Potoroka said.
The vast majority of residents have grown accustomed to bringing their own bags with them when shopping.
“Frankly people are already making appropriate choices,” Potoroka said, describing the bylaw as more of a situation where the town is catching up to what residents and local businesses are already doing.
In fact when the town first began considering a formal bylaw to ban plastic bags, it was learned during consultations that many residents and business owners did not think such a bylaw went far enough.
Given that input, all single-use plastics were added to the ban before the final reading of the bylaw was passed unanimously.
Wanting to give businesses which still use single-use plastics some time to adjust and use the supplies they had, Potoroka said council opted to look a couple of months down the road for the bylaw to come into effect — which happened to fall right around Earth Day.
“April 22 was in our wheelhouse,” he said. “The timing was appropriate.”
Fines for breaking the bylaw are set at $75 for the first offence and $150 for offences thereafter.
Dawson is the first community to implement an overall ban for single-use plastics, though Potoroka pointed out others have led the way in banning plastic grocery bags.
Mayo was first to ban plastic grocery bags, more than a decade ago, while Carmacks began its ban in August 2019.
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