Tofino and Ucluelet are set to become the first municipalities in B.C. to ban businesses from using single-use plastic straws.

The joint bylaw would make it illegal for businesses in the area to dispense plastic drinking straws and plastic straws to customers, punishable by fines of $100 for a first offence and $200 for subsequent offences.

The bylaw, which has passed first and second readings at both municipal councils, would also require businesses to charge customers at least $0.25 for a paper bag and at least $2 for a reusable bag.

The bylaw, if passed in its third reading on May 14 and adopted into law on May 28, would come into effect on June 8, World Oceans Day.

Fines for contravening the bylaw would not come into effect until Jan. 1, 2020.

There are proposed exemptions to the bylaw which would still allow businesses to freely supply small paper or plastic bags to package:

  • loose bulk items
  • produce
  • candy
  • frozen foods
  • meat, poultry and fish
  • flowers and potted plants
  • baked goods
  • prescription drugs
  • small hardware items like nails, nuts and bolts
  • linens, bedding or similar large items that don't easily fit into reusable bags

There are also exemptions to allow businesses to sell plastic drinking straws or bags intended for use in a customer's home, provided they are prepackaged in multiples (ie: garbage bags).

Businesses would also still be allowed to give customers plastic bags if the bags have been returned to the business for other customers to re-use.

Local environmental group Surfrider Pacific Rim spearheaded the anti-plastics campaign in co-ordination with the two West Island municipalities.

In a statement Tuesday the group said it is "determined to eliminate all single-use plastic takeaway packaging from Tofino and Ucluelet by 2022, including cutlery, ramekins, takeaway containers, all takeaway Styrofoam items, coffee cups, and lids, as well as water bottles under one litre."

Vancouver's previously announced ban on plastic straws and Styrofoam has been delayed until 2020.

In a decision approved by city council Monday night, the ban on straws and foam containers – which was scheduled to come into full effect on June 1 – was pushed back into early 2020.

The ban on Styrofoam is now set to begin in January 2020 and on plastic straws by April 2020.