Vancouver mayor promises to scrap single-use cup fee by summer
Speaking to the business community this week, Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim promised to eliminate a 25-cent fee on single-use cups.
In his first State of the City address, Sim pledged to remove the controversial fee that was introduced by the former mayor and council.
"What we heard from the business community and residents is the cup fee just ain't working," Sim said.
He prefaced this statement by saying the community loves the environment, but the city can make a distinction between what is pragmatic and not.
The bylaw came into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, along with a ban on single-use plastics and a charge for paper shopping bags.
According to city data, 89 million plastic shopping bags and 80 million single-use cups ended up in the trash in 2018 alone.
Coun. Rebecca Bligh, told CTV News on Thursday that the bylaw has had little impact on consumer behaviour, and that it was unclear how businesses were spending the additional revenue.
"The city doesn't have the ability to collect that tax under the charter we're governed under, so we don't know where that money is going," said the ABC Party councillor.
The city's website says that the businesses were encouraged to invest the money into reusable alternatives and to cover the costs of complying with the bylaw, which could include paying for software upgrades and training staff.
With Ken Sim's ABC Party having a majority on council, a proposal to eliminate the fee is all but guaranteed to pass.
Coun. Pete Fry, who was on council when the bylaw was put into place, believes Sim is playing to his base and that eliminating the fee doesn’t mean that the cost of a cup of coffee will suddenly drop by a quarter.
"I hope at the very least, as we move forward with this, that we are still articulating that these aren't free cups, that they cost you the consumer— whether you bring your own cup or not – it's been baked into the sale of the item," said Fry.
He went on to say regardless of the fee amount, the goal is to reduce the number of single-use items flooding the landfill and more needs to be done.
Wallace Barr, who runs Forecast Coffee in the heart of Main Street, says his business has taken the spare change from the fee and invested much of it into expanding its reusable cup selection.
This comes as he's witnessed a shift in how his customers enjoy their cup of joe.
"We're definitely seeing an increase in the number of people bringing their own mugs in, but anecdotally, I couldn't tell you why," said Barr.
No motion to do away with the fee is currently before council.
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