Saanich residents can expect a bylaw banning plastic checkout bags to go into effect in April 2021.
On Dec. 14, council voted unanimously to endorse the Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw, consistent with the City of Victoria’s timeline.
In mid-2019, council adopted an initial version of the bylaw banning plastic checkout bags which was set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020. The bylaw was similar to the one Victoria implemented in July 2018 that was later struck down by the B.C. Court of Appeal.
After Victoria’s legal battle, Saanich repealed its bylaw and sent a replacement – aimed at protection of the natural environment – to the province for approval. In March, B.C.’s environment minister approved Saanich’s plastic bag bylaw along with similar ones from Victoria, Tofino, Ucluelet and Richmond.
Victoria voted in mid-October to implement its bylaw on April 15, 2021. The decision to align Saanich’s bylaw implementation with Victoria came out of a desire to ensure consistent messaging across the majority of the region, said Coun. Susan Brice, who spearheaded the latest motion. Many Saanich businesses have locations in Victoria and this way they’ll be able to “harmonize” their policies.
Brice said there will be a public education period as the bylaw is implemented because the goal is to create new habits rather than punish people.
Even without a bylaw, Saanich shoppers have begun to make the swap to reusable bags, she noted, adding, “most people, deep down, understand the value.”
Saanich’s plastic bag ban bylaw could be delayed if Victoria makes changes but for now, residents can expect the new regulations to go into effect in April 2021, said Mayor Fred Haynes.
Council also directed staff to develop a plan to educate residents about the plastic bag bylaw and monitor the federal government’s initiatives regarding plastic bans so that the municipality can align its policies.