SURFRIDER PACIFIC RIM VICTORIES
District of Tofino Motion to Regulate Single Use Plastics
Surfrider has been working diligently on removing plastic straws, bags and other forms of single use plastics in Tofino. In April 2018, we presented on the achievements of our Ban the Bag campaign, and following this, Mayor Josie Osborne put forward a Motion to Regulate Single Use Plastics, which was passed by Council in June 2018. Now, District staff are working on a ban that will begin with plastic straws and bags in 2019. Additional single use plastic items will be added to the ban throughout the next few years!
District of Ucluelet Ban on Plastic Straws and Bags
After Surfrider presented on the Ban the Bag Campaign in a delegation to the District of Ucluelet in May 2018, the Council adopted a resolution to refer to the City of Victoria’s Bylaw to staff for review and to report back to Council on what would be appropriate for Ucluelet. Once the District of Tofino passed the Motion to regulate single use plastics, the District of Ucluelet agreed to adopt the same regulation to keep policies consistent across the Pacific Rim. Following this, on November 28th, Mayor and Council made an amendment to the draft bylaw written by staff, so that it includes banning both straws and bags in 2019.
On December 5th, 2018 Canada’s house of commons voted unanimously in favour of M-151: a national strategy to combat marine plastic pollution, marking an historic moment in Canadian plastic politics. This ground breaking success is testament to the tireless efforts of the organizations and individuals who partnered in delivering this to parliament.
The bill was first developed by Courtney-Alberni MP, Gord Johns who’s district represents portions of Vancouver Island. MP Johns proposed the motion in the aftermath of the Hanjin disaster which brought to light what he described as “a regulatory and legislative void” when it comes to dealing with marine debris. In November 2016, thirty-five shipping containers fell from the Hanjin Seattle and spilled their contents into the mouth of the Juan de Fuca strait, spewing debris over the surrounding beaches; but the lack of a federal framework to deal with this kind of emergency left local first nations and organizations in the Vancouver Island Marine Debris Working Group to pick up the tab.
Surfrider Pacific Rim were amongst the first responders in the initial clean-up efforts, removing 20 tons of debris from 44 beaches, including the logistically challenging and expensive process of cleaning the badly-affected remote beaches in Clayoquot and Barkley sounds. However the magnitude of resources necessary to tackle this kind of spill clearly demonstrated the urgent need for federal support. Focusing on advocacy, Surfrider Pacific Rim collaborated with Gord Johns, our local MP, and a host of other organizations to strategize and develop M-151. The chapter partnered with Ocean Legacy Foundation in writing a Sum of Us petition to reach the broader Canadian community, and by presenting at conferences, leveraging local and national media, and circulating the petition via all our media channels and events, we steadily garnered public support for the M-151 motion. Hanjin was the catalyst that highlighted the need to create governmental policy and mechanisms for dealing with marine plastic pollution. Last week’s unanimous vote was the crucial first step in realizing that goal!
District of Tofino Smoking Regulation Bylaw
In May, 2018, the District of Tofino passed the Smoking Regulation Bylaw to prohibit smoking and vaping in public spaces, including beaches, playgrounds and worksites. The District of Tofino supports reducing the negative health impacts of smoking and second hand smoke, as stated from their website, “It is generally recognized that there is no safe level of smoke exposure and environmental smoke whether from tobacco, cannabis or heated vapour can contain Class A carcinogens similar to benzene and asbestos.” The District of Tofino also supports a cleaner community that is free from pollution, and with this, they support reducing the known environmental impacts caused by cigarette butts, which Surfrider Pacific Rim has worked to raise awareness about through the Hold On To Your Butt Campaign. Since 2017, Surfrider Pacific Rim has been working to reduce cigarette butt pollution through supplying businesses and Districts with cigarette canisters, where people can responsibly put their butts. All butts are then collected from these canisters and sent to Terracycle for recycling.