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Calgary council starts process to repeal single-use items bylaw


Exactly two weeks after it was implemented, Calgary city council has voted in favour of starting the process to repeal its single-use items bylaw amid significant public and political pushback.

New rules were introduced Jan. 16, setting a 15-cent fee for paper bags, a $1 fee for reusable bags and requiring businesses and restaurants to only provide single-use accessories such as napkins, cutlery and condiments when requested.

The bylaw applies to all dine-in, drive-thru and delivery orders.

In a 10-5 vote, council supported a motion to hold a public hearing to consider repealing the bylaw and bring back a better plan to handle waste management.

A public hearing is required to consider repealing a bylaw that has already been voted for and implemented.

The motion calls for a new plan and report to be submitted to council no later than March 31, but the bylaw will stay in place much longer than that.

The single-use items rules and fees will likely stay in place until at least May, city officials said.

Councillors Courtney Walcott, Kourtney Penner, Gian-Carlo Carra, Jasmine Mian and Mayor Jyoti Gondek all voted against the motion to start the repeal process.

Earlier Tuesday, administration presented to council and fielded questions about the implementation of the bylaw.

Officials said they heard "loud and clear" the concerns, questions and confusion about the rules.

"There was components of this bylaw that were actually pretty good. And there was things in this bylaw that were really going to help small businesses -- small businesses who are represented by BIAs this morning who said they really appreciate that they're able to recoup some costs and make customers think about whether they need a bag," Gondek said.

"It's going to be a little bit confusing now because this is in place until the public hearing comes to us. That public hearing has to take some time.

"There was another amendment in place that really spoke to what we've been hearing from Calgarians and it was going to exempt drive-thru and walk-up bags. We never got to hear that one because the repeal motion won."

The city says about 15 million single-use items go to the landfill every week.

Of that, up to a million of those items are drive-thru bags, the city says.

In speaking to businesses since the bylaw was brought into place, administration says one fast food restaurant reported between 10-20 per cent of drive-thru customers were opting out of asking and paying for a paper bag. Top Stories

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