Wednesday, June 13, 2012

City Swing

I had a fear when Rob Ford was elected as our mayor. The fear was that such a hard-right leaning mayor, who also happens to be an idiot, would result in a hard-left backlash come the next election. Toronto doesn't need a fiscally irresponsible hippie throwing money at every project and idea any more than it needs a mayor who doesn't understand that income is required to run a city.

Last week, the Mayor got his vote to cancel a 5-cent plastic bag fee to Council. The fee was instituted by the previous Mayor and has been incredibly successful in reducing the number of plastic bags being produced and sent to landfills. Some people are annoyed by it, but if you live here, it's not that difficult to get a few reusable bags or pay a nickel or two every once in a while.

To the surprise of many, the repeal of the fee passed. I had figured it would fail, but a motion to better direct these fees would come forward.

Instead, the fee was removed, and immediately afterwards, Council voted to ban plastic bags by next January. This was little more than big "fuck you" to Ford.

And it was a mistake.

I'm not against a plastic bag ban. I am against one that is done as a knee-jerk reaction with no planning, consultation, or plan. Are produce bags banned? Bulk food bags? What replaces the plastic bags? Do I have to buy a reusable bag every time I forget one? Or will paper be available? (Toronto has never really had the "paper or plastic?" option while I've been alive)

The LCBO (liquor store) dropped plastic bags a few years back, and many wept. They had the best plastic bags, those thick fuckers that could hold a ton of stuff and barely stretch, let alone break. They switched to paper only, except... not paper with handles. A big booze shopping trip now results in awkward balancing of bags if you don't bring your own or take a box. It's completely impractical if you want to pick up a couple bottles in the middle of shopping. If grocery stores switch to these type of bags, it could have a serious effect on those of us who walk to the store.

In the grand scheme of things, this is admittedly minor, if inconvenient. It certainly seems that the environmental benefit will be net positive, and people can adapt easily enough. Where my concern lies is that Council so easily passed this. They were annoyed with the Mayor and another of his stupid crusades, and they reacted by essentially saying "sure, here's what you want... and then something worse!" That's just poor governing. I want Council to be a voice of reason and a controlling element versus a terrible leader, not a power-mad organization who ignore what's best for what's most dramatic.


KenP said...

Plastic bags are no longer petroleum based. They use various plant starches. Actually, the alternatives are more carbon producing than those plastic bags.

I agree the darn things can be annoying but they are recyclable and make up about 1% of litter.

You talk about fiscal responsibility. Those darn plastic bags are fiscally responsible compared to reasonable alternatives.

A study by the state of California showed that plastic bags make up 0.3% of the landfills. Is that cost and loss of convenience something to embrace?

If we need to do more, lets do it where the cost benefit ratio means something. That is being ignored in too many situations.


Ken -- proven non-robot

Astin said...

Which furthers my point that laws can't be passed in such a knee-jerk manner. Proper research, consultation, and education must be undertaken.