Fraser passes 20-cent disposable bag fee |

Fraser passes 20-cent disposable bag fee

The Fraser Board of Trustees passed Ordinance 458, which implements a 20 cent disposable bag fee at all of the town's retailers and food stores. The fee must be in effect by April 1.
File Photo / Byron Helzer, Sky-Hi News

Starting next year, customers at Fraser’s retailers and food stores may see their bill increase thanks to a new single-use bag fee passed by the town’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday evening.

The new ordinance requires retailers and food stores to charge 20 cents per single-use bag in an effort to promote sustainability and to encourage the use of reusable bags. Stores have until April 1 to implement the policy.

“This addresses a problem that we’ve seen for a very long time,” Michael Brack, assistant to the town manager, said. “I think it’s pretty obvious the negative effects plastic bags have on our environment and our community and this ordinance addresses that concern. Essentially, it encourages our guests and our community to break the habit of using disposable plastic bags.”

The fee exempts produce bags, bags used to contain frozen foods, meat, fish, flowers or potted plants, prepared foods and bakery items, as well as pharmacy bags and those sold in packages containing multiple bags. People on food assistance programs are not exempt from the fee.

The money raised by the fee will be split by the town and the stores, with 60 percent of the funds going specifically to town sustainability measures, such as offering new programs at The Drop like Christmas tree disposal.

The other 40 percent of the funds goes back to the stores to help pay for the cost of implementation, providing more reusable bags, educating customers about the policy with signage and promote sustainability in the stores.

A Safeway representative, Nathan Svoboda, store director for the Fraser Safeway, said the store is on board with implementing the fee, but asked the board for help promoting the change so customers aren’t surprised when they reach the register.

“The biggest thing upfront is there’s going to be some pushback from the people who aren’t in support of paying extra for a bag and that’s where I would ask for help from the town with an outreach program,” Svoboda said.

Only two other Safeway stores in Colorado charge a disposable bag fee. According to Safeway, customers use approximately a million plastic or single-use bags per year.

Town Manager Jeff Durbin said the town plans to do some outreach to educate residents and guests on the change, as well as put out informational signs, and potentially offer reusable bags for no or discounted cost to help encourage the switch.

“This fits directly in with the sustainability goals that the town board has established for the organization and community,” Durbin said. “We will need to get out and talk to the businesses and say hey, you probably don’t pay attention to what happens in these meetings all the time and you need to know this happened, we’re going to help you sell this, here’s what needs to happen.”

Fraser Center for the Creative Arts moves forwards

The board also discussed another town priority, promoting public art, and heard from the Public Arts Committee and local DAO Architecture Firm about the proposed Center for Creative Arts.

The estimated $6 million building would house an art gallery, artist studios, makerspaces for art classes and creation, as well as seven apartments, including one for an artist in residence. Funding will be raised through private donations and fundraising efforts.

The arts center was proposed to be located on Eastom and Doc Susie Avenues behind the new Fraser Valley Distilling Co.

Dan Orecchio, principal at DAO, said the goal is to build an iconic and transformational arts center that fits with the town’s goals to have a walkable downtown area and promote the artist community and economic development.

“One of the keys of the project is it will stand in our community as a call to create,” Orecchio said. “That’s what we want this place to be, reflective of the budding artist community in Fraser.”

Orecchio said it was also important to take advantage of the natural beauty of the environment so the building will feature lots of glass, an outdoor plaza, a breezeway to the Fraser River and a rooftop deck.

The hope is that this center will be transformational for Fraser’s downtown and bring more businesses and visitors to the area, making Fraser a destination in its own right.

“Part of the goal of this project is we do have an identity, we think that it has to do a lot with this artist community, so part of the project is to help Fraser foster that identity,” Orecchio said. “It wants to contribute to the idea of the downtown being walkable, it wants to be a focal point to draw people to downtown, it wants to capitalize on very common economic strategies where if you invest public dollars in an area private dollars will follow and the downtown area will grow.”

The board approved the lot location for the arts center and encouraged the project to continue. Fundraising efforts will start mid-month Orecchio said.

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