The plastic bag bylaw was deemed invalid by the B.C. Court of Appeal. (File Photo)

B.C. Court of Appeal deems Victoria plastic bag ban bylaw invalid

Appeal Court Justice sides with plastic bag industry

The B.C. Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of the Canadian Plastic Bag Association (CPBA) in regards to the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban, finding the bylaw invalid.

The municipal bylaw came into effect on July 1, 2018, regulating the issuance and sale of single-use plastic bags. Businesses were instructed to instead offer paper or reusable bags for purchase, or else face heavy fines.

The CPBA challenged the bylaw in a petition for judicial review in January 2018, and in May 2018, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in favour of the City.

ALSO READ: Plastic Bag Association takes the City of Victoria to court once again

However, a new B.C. Court of Appeal decision found that the City’s definition of the bylaw’s purpose was not consistent with its after-effects.

The City said that the main purpose of the bylaw was to regulate businesses, something which is in a municipality’s jurisdiction. However, the court found that the dominant, underlying purpose of the bylaw was to protect the natural environment, which falls under the jurisdiction of the provincial government.

The court came to this conclusion after citing that much of the bylaw’s influences came from the work of the environmental organization, the Surfrider Foundation.

Therefore, in order for this bylaw to have come into effect the City needed to seek approval from the Ministry of the Environment, which it did not, making the bylaw invalid as of immediately.

ALSO READ: Esquimalt requests public feedback as it plans for plastic bag ban

“While the City’s intentions in passing the bylaw were no doubt reasonable, we must give effect to the clear instructions of s. 9(3) [of the Community Charter] requiring the minister’s approval,” wrote Court Madam Justice Newbury in her decision.

Council must now reconvene to make decisions about its next steps.

Deborah Curran, executive director of the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, said there are several available options.

“It’s not that the City of Victoria is shut out from regulating single-use plastic bags,” Curran said. “They can retool the bylaw to make it look more like a business regulation, they can go to the minister for approval and they could also talk with the province about getting the direct authority — allowing them to have the jurisdiction to put the bylaw into effect.”

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she was disappointed about the turn in the decision.

ALSO READ: Canada to ban single-use plastics in 2021

“This was not the decision we were hoping for but we fundamentally believe that the City does have the ability to regulate businesses and their sustainable practices, so we’ll be reviewing the decision and looking at all of our options,” Helps said. “We don’t need rules to have good behaviour. My hope is that the community will continue the path that we’ve worked and walked together since the bylaw came into effect.”

Other municipalities which have adopted similar bylaws, such as Ucluelet and Tofino, will not be affected by this decision.

In early June, the federal Liberal government announced aims to ban single-use plastic items including bags, straws, cotton swabs and cutlery as early as 2021. However, Helps said that the City is not likely to wait for federal legislation to come into effect.

“That would be a bit of long wait, and as we all know there’s a federal election coming this fall,” Helps said. “My hope is what has become business as usual in Victoria will continue while we sort out the next steps. “

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

City of VictoriaPlastic Bag Ban

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

First Energy Metals set to start gold exploration work in the West Kootenay

The work will be conducted at two of its sites near Nakusp and Nelson

Flooding: Why the RDCK ordered hundreds of properties evacuated

All evacuation orders have now been rescinded

No immediate threat of flooding in Nakusp area: RDCK official

High water levels have been reported near Burton and Edgewood last weekend

Nakusp Hot Springs campground opens to RVs today

No tenting will be permitted at the campground at this time

Evacuation orders for Duhamel, Salmo-Ymir and Crawford Creek rescinded

RDCK warns public that streams are still dangerous

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

B.C. ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

Most Read