The City of Regina voted to ban plastic bags from the city this week, but the COVID-19 pandemic means residents and businesses will not notice any time soon.

Council voted in favour of the ban at its Wednesday meeting. The city solicitor has been tasked with drafting a bylaw to go before council at the end of July. It will then come into effect one year after it has been approved by city council.

But the bylaw will not come into effect during the COVID-19 pandemic or any sort of public health emergency, Coun. Bob Hawkins said.

The one-year grace period will allow the city to prepare education materials for the public as they prepare to make the transition away from plastic bags, as well.

The bag ban “is something that the public wants; our surveys showed that,” Hawkins said on Thursday. “It’s something that will improve the environment. It’s something that will reduce litter in Regina.”

Regina is not the first city to ban plastic bags in Saskatchewan as a way to reduce waste. Prince Albert’s city council made the move to ban them last year and finalized the details in January.

Single-use plastics account for about one per cent of the overall waste that makes its way into Regina’s landfill, the city says.

Reducing the amount of plastic bags is an important step in attaining a more sustainable city as the City of Regina has set a goal to divert 65 per cent of household waste away from landfills, Hawkins said.

“It’s going to be increasingly difficult for us to send single-use plastics like plastic bags offshore to places like the Philippines or China,” Hawkins added, which is another reason for moving toward greener pastures.

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