COMOX, B.C. – A local group wants to see plastic bags become a thing of the past in the Comox Valley.

In a delegation to the Town’s Committee of the Whole on Wednesday, the Comox Valley Nurses for Health and the Environment asked members to consider a ban on single-use plastic bags at the point of sale, and possibly other plastic packaging within the Town of Comox.

The goal is to reduce plastic pollution in the Comox Valley.

The group’s coordinator Helen Boyd said the delegation’s goal was to simply to present the request to initiate a Comox Valley-wide ban on single use plastic bags.

According to the group, single-use bags are an ecological danger because they degrade into microplastics and further leach into soils, groundwater, and the ocean.

“It’s a health issue,” Boyd reiterated. “Plastic bags are finding their way into our waterways and polluting our waterways and then breaking down into microplastics that are then ingested by fish and end up in our food web. For us, it’s an issue of health.”

Boyd noted that protecting waterways is one of the elements in the regional growth strategy.

Locally, Cumberland has taken the first steps in this direction, when council voted to introduce the ban in a phased approach, starting with plastic grocery bags and straws, with enforceable bylaws going into effect July 2019.

In Victoria, a bylaw came into effect on July 1, 2018 whereby businesses in Victoria cannot provide customers with single-use plastic checkout bags.

In a petition of support, the group noted that the average Canadian uses up to 200 plastic bags per year, and that the bags are made of petroleum products that require extraction of resources.

The petition generated 136 signatures in support of a bylaw to ban plastic bag ban.

Boyd said the time is right to introduce this ban.

“There are many municipalities on Vancouver Island including Parksville, Qualicum, Tofino, Esquimalt, Saanich, Campbell River that are already spearheading that (initiative), so it is municipalities that are taking on this,” Boyd said.

“I think it’s a matter of educating the public about alternatives and this is a good reason for us to move forward because of health issues, and that there are very easy solutions to plastic bags for garbage use, as they existed before the advent of plastic.”

Boyd said further delegations will be made to Courtenay and Cumberland councils as well as the Comox Valley Regional District.