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  

Just Posted

Castlegar players headed for US hockey league

University of Jamestown drafts local players

Castlegar long-term care homes faring better than average

Office of the Seniors Advocate finds local facilities doing well

Council confirms a future for Rossland arena

Council says studies have shown the arena has enough use and brings great benefit to community

Byelection coming for Kootenay Columbia school trustee

The board appointed its Chief Election Officer at the Monday meeting

Columbia River Treaty: ‘It is going to get tough’

B.C. negotiator tells Nelson meeting that talks are cordial, so far

VIDEO: ‘Climate emergency’ is Oxford’s 2019 Word of the Year

Other words on the shortlist included ‘extinction,’ ‘climate denial’ and ‘eco-anxiety’

Canucks erupt with 5 power-play goals in win over Nashville

Vancouver ends three-game slide with 6-3 triumph over Predators

65-million-year-old triceratops makes its debut in Victoria

Dino Lab Inc. is excavating the fossilized remains of a 65-million-year-old dinosaur

B.C. widow suing health authority after ‘untreatable’ superbug killed her husband

New Public Agency Health report puts Canadian death toll at 5,400 in 2018

Changes to B.C. building code address secondary suites, energy efficiency

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing

Security guard at Kamloops music festival gets three years for sexually assaulting concertgoer

Shawn Christopher Gray walked the woman home after she became seperated from her friends, court heard

Algae bloom killing farmed fish on Vancouver Island’s West Coast

DFO says four Cermaq Canada salmon farms affected, fish not infectious

Most Read