A bylaw banning plastic bags has been adopted in Victoria, the first local government to do so in British Columbia.
The regulations were finalized Thursday following a 7-1 vote in favour of the bylaw, with Coun. Geoff Young opposed, following initial approval in December. The City will begin enforcing the bylaw in July.
Businesses will be restricted from charging for or providing free plastic bags, except in specific situations. Retailers must first ask customers if they need a bag, and then charge 15 cents for a paper bag, or $1 for a reusable bag.
Coun. Ben Isitt said he believes this law could become a template for other municipalities in the region and across the province.
“I think we can think of tonight as a new beginning. It’s a first step, and an important step, in pursuing a broader waste strategy,” he said prior to the final vote. “We will be, if this is approved, the first local government in British Columbia to ban single-use plastic bags.”
Merchants will still be allowed to offer small paper and other bags free for packaging live fish, bulk food, small hardware items, frozen foods, flowers and potted plants, prepared foods and bakery goods. Other items in this category include prescriptions, laundry and dry cleaning, newspapers or other delivered print material, and linens or bedding that cannot fit in a reusable bag.
Victoria’s council had previously indicated they did not want to tackle this issue alone, and sent a letter to the province, the Capital Regional District and neighbouring municipalities hoping for some consistency and regional support. Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Saanich, Central Saanich, and Nanaimo have also been discussing potential bans.