Miller’s PMB To Reduce Dock Foam In Waterways Passes Committee


On Wednesday, before the release of the 2021 Budget, the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills unanimously passed Bill 228, Keeping Polystyrene Out of Ontario’s Lakes and Rivers Act.

The Bill, introduced by Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norman Miller, is designed to require polystyrene foam used in docks and other floating structures to be encapsulated in order to prevent pieces from breaking off and polluting the waterways.

Earlier in the week the Committee heard, over Zoom, from residents, municipalities and environmental groups, all of whom agreed that dock foam is a problem in Georgian Bay and other waterways and spoke in support of the bill.

At the Committee hearing, Rupert Kindersley, Executive Director of the Georgian Bay Association, summed up why many groups and individuals support this legislation. “The reason why GBA supports this bill is that, as has been stated I think probably by everybody, polystyrene foam is the major plastics pollution source in the Great Lakes. An analysis of the Georgian Bay shoreline cleanup materials collected and Seabin contents, which is a new technology that is working really well, absolutely proves this. Something like 95% of the plastics collected was blue polystyrene foam. There are reasonably priced alternatives that are available for construction of new docks and dock repairs,” said Kindersley.

Georgian Bay Forever shared with the Committee members their scientific research into the issues caused by dock foam.

Terry Rees, Executive Director of the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations, shared his organization’s support saying “FOCA believes that instituting this ban which is envisioned in Bill 228 could go a long way to reducing the plastic pollution that originates from the use of unencapsulated polystyrene foam and will help us to protect our valuable Ontario lakes and rivers.”

As well, the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills received written submissions from 30 groups and individuals with 28 of the 30 supporting the bill. The majority of those written submissions came from individuals who have had to clean up dock foam litter on the shores of Georgian Bay and many included photos of large and small pieces of dock foam they have picked up.

A couple of different presenters to the committee talked about the number of docks that are rebuilt because the dock foam needs to be replaced and asked that this bill apply to any rebuilt or refurbished docks as well. As a result of the discussion at Committee, Miller proposed and the Committee passed an amendment to make the bill apply when existing docks are rebuilt and that amendment was passed by the Committee.

“I want to thank the groups and individuals that presented to committee as well as everyone who submitted written comments and photos that illustrate the problem,” said Miller. “I am optimistic that this Bill will be called for Third Reading debate in the Legislature sometime this spring.”


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