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'Near-mutiny on wing night': Smith doesn't support Calgary or Edmonton's bylaws on single-use items


Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says she has asked her minister of municipal affairs to see if bylaws passed in Calgary and Edmonton over single-use items are a step too far.

Smith made the comments during a media conference in Edmonton on Thursday about improving health care in the province.

"We have had to step in when we think that municipalities are going a step too far on certain issues, and I've asked my minister if he thinks that is one of those areas."

On Jan. 16, Calgary brought into effect a bylaw over single-use items such as bags, utensils, napkins and other products.

According to the rules, businesses were told to charge 15 cents for paper shopping bags and a dollar for reusable bags.

In addition, items such as utensils, condiments, napkins and paper straws would only be available upon request.

A similar bylaw was put into place in Edmonton last year.

On Thursday, Smith said the legislation in both municipalities hasn't gone over well.

"I can tell you, I've heard there was near-mutiny on wing night in some restaurants because you have to ask whether or not people want napkins.

"Some thing are just so obvious that you need napkins on wing night."

Smith said the rules were born out of "ideology getting ahead of common sense" and she is not supportive of them.

"We've got a garbage management problem," she said. "Let's figure out how to manage the garbage. Let's figure out better ways for collection, incineration."

While she consults with Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver about the issue, Smith said concerned Albertans should contact their local governments.

"Call your councillor and call your mayor and tell them what you think of these, because I can tell you it's not happening in every municipality."

Some Calgary councillors are seeking to bring forth a motion to determine if changes need to be made to the bylaw.

"I've heard from a lot of people. They all think it's ridiculous, they're all choked,” Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean said.

"I'd like to see the total bylaw scrapped. But if we were to do any changes, at least the most important part, I think that would maybe give some people some relief, would be to scrap the food portion. So when you're going to a restaurant or fast food that you're just not seeing those delays and those extra costs."

Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot said he isn’t sure if the bylaw will actually help reduce waste.

“Just because you're charging a fee for a bag does not decrease the necessity for the bag,” Chabot said.

"Surely there can be some compromise in there that we can amend the bylaw so that we don't have to ask people if they want a spoon for their chili."

Scott Johnston, a press secretary for the minister of municipal affairs, said the office is aware of some Albertan’s concerns about the bylaw.

“There has been little-to-no verifiable and consistent evidence collected to date on the effectiveness of these extra surcharges or the cost added to consumers,” Johnson said.

According to the City of Calgary, more than 10 million single-use items are thrown away every week, with most ending up in landfills or as litter.

With files from CTV News Calgary’s Jordan Kanygin Top Stories

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