Chilliwack will keep single-use bag fees low until March

Chilliwack banned single-use plastics last spring. Now, the city is planning the timeline for further rules on single-use items.

By Grace Giesbrecht | January 4, 2023 |5:00 am

Shoppers in Chilliwack will have to pay more for shopping bags in 2023. But not until April.

Though the city originally planned to up the fees placed on paper and reusable bags in January, the new council has decided to hold off on that increase until the spring.

Chilliwack was the first city in the Fraser Valley to completely ban plastic bags and other single-use plastics last April. Now, the city is evaluating its plan for recyclable and reusable grocery bags—and looking into where the fees charged for these bags accumulate.

Currently, Chilliwack requires retailers to charge for all grocery bags in an effort to limit waste. The Current covered the variety of different methods that cities in the area used to handle single-use plastics. Read that story here.

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Fees collected from charging for paper or reusable plastic bags currently go to the retailers providing the bags. Provincial legislation requires that model. But while the fee is detailed on the purchaser’s receipt, the record of how much money these fees bag for companies is not reported.

At a meeting earlier this month, Councillors condemned the practice of retailers profiting from “greenness” and asked staff to send a strongly-worded letter to the province saying so. The letter will also ask that businesses be required to report the amount they collect in single-use item fees. It will also bring up the possibility of returning those profits to the city to fund green initiatives.

Fees for paper bags in Chilliwack are 15 cents per bag and fees for reusable bags are $1. These are lower fees intended to introduce prices on bags. The city will raise the prices to 25 cents per paper bag, and 2$ per reusable bag, in April. Provincial regulations tell municipalities what the minimum fees need to be for their grocery bag bylaws, and let municipalities use introductory periods. Chilliwack will extend its introductory period, which was set to expire in January, to March.

In addition to the bags, Chilliwack has also banned single-use utensils, straws (unless requested for accessibility reasons,) foam cups, and foam takeout containers. The city intends to include other items in its plan to reduce waste—like cups for hot and cold drinks—once the province allows the city to make rules surrounding their use.


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Grace Giesbrecht

Grace Giesbrecht is a reporter with the Fraser Valley Current

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