The Supreme Court of Canada’s dismissal of Victoria’s plastic bag ban appeal won’t affect Saanich’s plastic bag ban.
On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the municipality’s application for a leave to appeal the decision that halted the controversial plastic bag ban that went into effect in July 2018.
The City applied for the leave to appeal the B.C. Court of Appeal’s decision in September 2019 and if it had been granted, the municipality could have then scheduled a hearing to appeal the decision to quash the plastic bag ban.
The B.C. Court of Appeal had ruled against Victoria’s bylaw saying it was focused on environmental protection, not on business regulations, meaning the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy would have needed to approve it before it went into effect.
The District of Saanich passed a similar bylaw banning plastic bags in June 2019. It was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, but after the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled against Victoria’s bylaw, Saanich council members voted in favour of repealing their original bylaw and moving forward with creating a replacement bylaw that would align with the court’s ruling.
In November, Saanich council approved the new plastic bag ban bylaw. Like the original, the replacement bylaw states that companies must also increase the price of reusable and paper bags from $0.15 to $1 and from $0.25 to $2 within the first year of the bylaw being in effect. However, this bylaw will be forwarded to the minister for approval prior to implementation.
“Plastic pollution is an important local and global issue,” said Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes.
He emphasized that municipalities need to take action within their legal responsibilities. Saanich council repealed the initial plastic bag bylaw in recognition of the regulations and brought forward a new bylaw that would align with the ruling, he explained.
“We look forward to the province now stepping up and taking responsible steps to ban single-use plastic shopping bags, plastic straws and other environmental hazards including single-use Styrofoam cups,” Haynes said.
He feels that by working together, B.C. can clean up plastic pollution by stopping the distribution.
If approved by the minister, Saanich’s ban would go into effect immediately and be enforced with no six month grace period.