Environmental leadership from Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum prompts Canada-wide change

Walmart Canada pledges to eliminate single-use plastic shopping bags across the country based on City of Surrey’s lead


AFTER October’s successful City Council vote introducing a new Plastic Bags and Single-Use Items Bylaw in the City of Surrey, the Mayor’s office has now received word that the initiative has inspired nationwide change in corporate Canada.

A December 7, 2021 letter received from Bryan MacLeod, Senior Manager of Public Affairs for Walmart Canada, confirms that “[f]ollowing the leadership in your municipality,” the chain “will be eliminating single-use plastic shopping bags at all 400+ of our Canadian locations by Earth Day 2022.”

The City of Surrey became the first municipality in Metro Vancouver to implement such a policy change, which is expected to eliminate use of over 25 million plastic checkout bags and seven million foam containers every year.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum pointed out that the news from Walmart Canada demonstrates that the actions of the Safe Surrey Coalition-led City Council are creating waves far beyond the realm of public policy makers.

“We are proud to be the first city in the region to implement this ban and always hoped that our lead could set an example for our neighbouring municipalities,” noted McCallum. “However, Walmart Canada’s outreach is a strong endorsement of how civic leadership can truly prompt tangible impact on a far larger scale.”

The Walmart Canada decision is expected to be fully in place by Earth Day 2022 (April 22) and will remove almost 250,000,000 bags from circulation every year. This is the equivalent of the number of plastic bags it would take to circle the Earth’s equator 20 times.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (3rd from left) with Safe Surrey Coalition members (left to right) Councillor Mandeep Nagra, Councillor Allison Patton, Mayor Doug McCallum, Councillor Doug Elford and Councillor Laurie Guerra at Surrey City Hall.
Photo: City of Surrey

Since taking office, the Safe Surrey Coalition has moved forward on a range of green initiatives, including doubling the number of EV fast charging stations within city limits, large scale land purchases to expand the number of public parks and increasing the number of city-owned buildings and assets powered with renewable natural gas created at the Surrey Biofuel facility.   This has resulted in the City of Surrey being recognized as one of Canada’s greenest employers for two years straight as well as being designated as one of 59 cities worldwide to be included in the United Nations Tree Cities of the World program.

The Safe Surrey Coalition-led City Council has demonstrated that balance can be achieved between economic development and environmental sustainability, noted McCallum.

“From the first day we took office, the Safe Surrey Coalition has pursued responsible stewardship of our environment at the same time as accomplishing significant progress in attracting business opportunities to the city.”