File photo of plastic bags.

City of Victoria drafts revision of plastic bag ban bylaw

The bylaw will need to go to the province for approval

Victoria intends to send a revised version of its plastic bag bylaw to the province for consideration in coming weeks.

After the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal from the City on Jan. 22 this was the municipality’s next option.

The City adopted the bylaw in 2018, banning businesses from giving or selling single-use plastic bags for most items. The bylaw was challenged by a lobbyist group known as the Canadian Plastic Bag Association.

The BC Supreme court originally dismissed the challenge, and saw the bylaw come into effect on July 1, 2018.

However, a decision in the BC Court of Appeal in July 2019 overruled this, citing that the bylaw was invalid because it had been drafted as an economic measure when its main goal was environmental, meaning that it required permission from the province.

READ MORE: Lisa Helps ‘disappointed, not surprised’ by Supreme Court decision to not hear plastic bag bylaw appeal

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she was “disappointed, but not surprised” about the Supreme Court dismissal, and added that there were “other avenues” available to achieve their goal.

“That achievement is too great for us to turn our backs on. And our recent scans tell us that our community continues to avoid plastic bags despite these setbacks,” Helps told Black Press Media. “Moving forward, we’re going to continue to look for every opportunity to reduce plastic waste, which includes working with our provincial and national governments to develop high and shared standards.”

ALSO READ: More than 25,000 single-use items thrown out in downtown Victoria every day

City solicitor Tom Zworski wrote a proposed revision of the bylaw, with some minor changes. These include expressly identifying the bylaw as being developed to protect the environment, clarification on which foods are exempt from plastic bags (to include a reference to seafood) and clearly defining a single fine to range from $100 to $10,000 to provide flexibility to future court decisions.

If this version receives all three readings on Thursday, it will be forwarded to the province for consideration in the next few weeks.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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