Since the original design of Leaf Rapids, the community has kept sustaining the local environment a priority. The town was constructed with a deep respect for the wilderness that is incorporated into every aspect of the community, from construction to infrastructure to recreation. In June 1971, the construction of Leaf Rapids began, ensuring that much of the natural vegetation would be saved. Even in present day Leaf Rapids, a permit must be obtained before cutting down any trees within the town limits.
Leaf Rapids has also been proactive in expanding its recycling program. The community has residential and commercial recycling pick up. Recycling sorters are located throughout the Town Centre and there are also wildproof recycling containers throughout the community.
Since our recycling products need to be shipped out of town for processing, Leaf Rapids is currently investigating the feasibility of composting cardboard. The composted material would then be used within the community saving the environment from the harmful effects of transportation.
The Town of Leaf Rapids works with many levels of government with its green initiatives. The following links may provide useful information for anyone else trying to sustain the local environment:
Province of Manitoba Links:
Green Manitoba (Main Page)
Green Manitoba (specific programs available to communities) http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/pollutionprevention/funding.html
Canada Federal Links:
Power Up Canada Fund
Building Canada - Green Infrastructure
Sometimes it takes an impressive idea to lead us back to where we started.
In 2005, the Leaf Rapids Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) was going over the budget when he noticed that the community was spending almost $5000.00 a year to clean up discarded single-use plastic shopping bags and remove them from the trees in the forest that surrounded the Nuisance Grounds. The plastic bags were constantly being scattered about by the wind. Hundreds were clinging to the trunks and branches of the trees.
In May 2006, the CAO approached the Leaf Rapids Council with a novel idea. He suggested that the Town of Leaf Rapids purchase 1000 reusable bags from the Leaf Rapids Consumers Co-Operative store for $1.00 each and donate five of the reusable bags to every household in town. There was a condition to the donation however. After receiving the reusable bags, consumers would be charged a $.03 levee per bag whenever they packed their purchases in single-use plastic shopping bags. In May 2006, the Leaf Rapids Council passed a By-Law to this effect.
It was around this time that Matt Wittek of Instore Products in Ontario contacted the town. He explained that his company had been trying to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags since 1992. Matt paid a visit to Leaf Rapids and made a public presentation to Mayor and Council and the town’s two major retailers. The two major retailers expressed some concerns about banning single-use plastic shopping bags, but they were quickly won over. Matt spoke about the environmental dangers that the bags posed to our natural surroundings and about the economic and environmental advantages of reusable shopping bags.
He encouraged Leaf Rapids to become the first community in North America to legislate a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. He offered to support the town’s efforts by donating 5000 reusable shopping bags to the initiative.
He also suggested that Mayor and Council conduct a public relations campaign prior to passing a resolution banning the use of single-use plastic shopping bags. This would ensure community support for the legislation. Matt also agreed with the Leaf Rapids’ retailers when they recommended that an educational component to raise the awareness of students in the Leaf Rapids Education Centre would be beneficial. The students could then support the initiative by encouraging their parents to use reusable shopping bags. Finally, when Leaf Rapids became the first community in North America to ban single-use plastic shopping bags, Instore Products provided media management services and public relations support.
But there were other towns and cities in Canada and the United States that were hot on the heels of Leaf Rapids to become the first to ban single-use shopping bags. So at 12:01 A.M. on March 22 2007 (that’s right, Mayor and Council met in the middle of the night to pass the By-Law), the Municipal Council in Leaf Rapids unanimously approved By-Law 462.
Within days, Leaf Rapids was besieged with telephone calls, emails and television and newspaper reporters from all over North America. There were literally thousands of hits on the town’s web site. With very few exceptions, all of these people contacted Leaf Rapids for three reasons.
First, they congratulated the community for taking this bold action to reduce its footprint on the environment and to protect and preserve the world we live in for future generations.
Second, they wanted to know the process that the town had gone through to enact the By-Law. They left no doubt in anyone’s mind that they intended to lobby their town leaders to enact a similar By-Law of their own.
Finally, they wanted to know the wording of the By-Law. No one had to rely on Dublin Ireland anymore. They could now frame their By-Laws by following the example of a unique Canadian/North American version of a resolution to eliminate single-use plastic shopping bags in their communities.
With few exceptions, the residents of Leaf Rapids were 100% supportive of By-Law 462 from the very beginning and they have adapted well to the fact that they now have to bring their own bags when they go shopping. But just in case they forget, retailers in town now provide them with paper shopping bags. The paper bags, of course, can be deposited in the community’s recycling bins. No one has been charged with violating By-Law 462 and single-use plastic shopping bags have disappeared from behind the counters of the businesses in town.
Oh yes, many of the single-use plastic shopping bags are disappearing from somewhere else too. This year there was a noticeable decrease in the number of bags being scattered about by the wind and clinging to the trunks and branches of the trees surrounding the town’s Nuisance Ground – which is how this whole thing started.
TOWN OF LEAF RAPIDS
WHEREAS Single Use Plastic Shopping Bags are a very visible component of litter throughout the Town of Leaf Rapids, lake side, trails, roadside and the nuisance grounds;
AND WHEREAS Single Use Plastic Shopping Bags have a negative impact on our wildlife habitat and are not environmentally friendly;
AND WHEREAS the Town of Leaf Rapids incurs a significant cost to clean up the Single Use Plastic Shopping Bags each year;
AND WHEREAS local businesses can reduce merchandise cost by not having to purchase Single Use Plastic Shopping Bags;
AND WHEREAS the Town of Leaf Rapids has provided education to shoppers and school children about the environmental advantages and reduced cost of using reusable shopping bags;
AND WHEREAS by using a multi-use shopping bag, residents are reminded of the positive impact of recycling;
NOW THEREFORE upon passing this By-Law, the Council of the Town of Leaf Rapids, enacts as follows:
1. THAT the Town of Leaf Rapids will be Single Use Plastic Shopping Bag free effective April 2, 2007.
2. THAT retailers in the Town of Leaf Rapids will not be permitted to give away or sell plastic shopping bags that are intended for single use.
3. THAT a person who contravenes this By-Law of the Town of Leaf Rapids is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction of a fine of not more than $1000.00.
4. THAT where a contravention continues for more than one day, the person is guilty of a separate offence for each day it continues.
5. THAT on passing of this By-Law, By-Law No. 457 is hereby rescinded.
6. DONE AND PASSED as a By-Law of the Town of Leaf Rapids at the Townsite of Leaf Rapids, in the Province of Manitoba, this 22nd day of March, 2007, A.D.
EXEMPTIONS TO THE BY-LAW
Small plastic bags that are used to store non-packaged goods such as: a) Dairy products b) Fruit, vegetables or nuts c) Confectionery d) Cooked foods, hot or cold e) Ice f) Smaller bags for fresh meat, fish, candy and poultry g) Bags that cost more than $1.50
Read a first time this 21st Day of March, 2007, A.D.
Read this second time this 21st Day of March, 2007, A.D.
Read this third time this 22nd Day of March, 2007, A.D.
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