Council delays enforcement of plastic bylaw

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

Businesses have a six month grace period

The Town of Fort Frances council voted to extend the enforcement of the single-use plastics bylaw for six months after businesses wrote to council saying they ran into supply chain issues.

Council was only made aware of the struggle three weeks ago when Dale Fortes, Boston Pizza manager, wrote to council on behalf of himself, Sarah Noonan of the La Place Rendez‐Vous, Duane and Grace Cridland of Flint House and Larry Pham of Mekong.

Since then, council and administration have been deliberating on whether to amend the enforcement of the bylaw or show leniency with enforcing it.

Coun. Douglas Judson has been against amending the bylaw out of fairness to businesses that made the commitment to comply.

“I don’t want to minimize the concern of businesses that have come forward because I think one of the most salient things we heard at committee was that they actually get questions from consumers about whether or not they’re compliant with the bylaw, because it is a popular bylaw,” Judson said.

However, Coun. John McTaggart, said there is a real concern raised by the business community that cannot be ignored.

“They’re really having a difficult time beating the deadline on the single use plastic bylaw. Businesses are struggling to survive and keep their valued employees working and having to look them in the eye trying to meet their payroll,” McTaggart said. “The supply chain is broken. And alternative packaging is difficult to acquire.”

McTaggart said he does not want to see business owners put in a position, given the current circumstances where they need to spend time, money and effort defending their actions because supply chain issues are out of their hands.

“And I think we have to always remember that, as good and well intentioned this bylaw is, it was designed in pre-COVID times and thus, we’re in the COVID situation,” McTaggart said. “And I really think we need to listen to these businesses and give them a bit of a break. It’s an unforced error on them.”

That being said, Judson clarified that the bylaw is already in effect.

“It came into force last January, the only section that is not enforced is the section that creates the monetary policy, the monetary fines,” Judson said. “So in effect, we do have a law on this, we just don’t really have any teeth to it at the moment to to enforce it. We do have a bylaw. It’s just that the enforcement section with the penalties would be somewhat delayed.”