Winter Park, retailers say response to town’s bag fee has been positive so far |

Winter Park, retailers say response to town’s bag fee has been positive so far

A sign at the entrance to Fireside Market and Eatery in Winter Park reminds customers to grab their reusable bags before checking out.
McKenna Harford /

Shoppers in the Fraser Valley might want to start keeping reusable bags in their cars or risk a higher bill than normal with Winter Park’s 20 cent disposable bag fee taking effect on Monday.

The town passed the disposable bag fee ordinance in February intent on reducing waste and promoting sustainability. The ordinance is closely modeled after the one Fraser passed in 2018.

Exceptions to the fee include certain types of single-use bags, such as produce and pharmacy bags, as well as certain vendors, like restaurants, temporary vendors and businesses where retail sales are secondary to the primary business, such as salons.

Following Fraser’s implementation of a disposable bag fee earlier this year, Winter Park retailers are finding that most people are coming prepared.

“Most people are carrying something with them, so I think the word has spread quickly,” said Kelly Driscoll, manager at Moose Hollow Trading Company in Cooper Creek. “I have not heard any negative feedback.”

Mara Owen, town planner for Winter Park, said the town provided signage and information to local retailers to hang, and she personally visited all the affected businesses to ensure a smooth transition. Other resources for businesses, such as information and printable signs, remain available online.

“I think some people were surprised that it wasn’t already in Winter Park,” Owen said. “I think people are getting used to it because it’s more of a normalized thing now.”

The town will be providing some reusable bags to businesses and is partnering with the Winter Park-Fraser Chamber to try to get branded reusable bags into rental properties. Catherine Ross, executive director for the chamber, said she has only heard positive things from business owners.

“They’re happy that Winter Park is on the road to finding ways to create a more sustainable community,” Ross said. 

The sentiment was echoed by Steve Hurlbert, director of public relations and communications for Winter Park Resort, who said the effort matches the resort’s core values. 

He added that the resort began putting up signage and talking to customers early to prepare them for the change, and so far there haven’t been any issues since many guests are already used to it.

“I think people understand why you’re doing it and that’s the key thing,” Hurlbert said. “It’s easy to say, ‘Hey, look out the window. This is why we’re doing this.'”

He added that the resort’s goal is to be more sustainable, and it supports other local efforts to do the same.

Revenues from the fee will be split with 60% going to the town for sustainability efforts and 40% going back to retailers to cover the cost of implementing the fee. 

Per the ordinance, Winter Park Town Council will review the fee after one year to determine its impact on the community and how effective it is.

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