VICTORIA – Following the legal process that saw Victoria’s plastic bag bylaw struck down by the BC Court of Appeal earlier this summer, Saanich council has unanimously passed a new plastic bag ban that councillors hope will stand a better chance of taking effect in their district.

While Saanich had already passed a plastic checkout bag bylaw back in June 2019, which was to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020, the municipality decided to repeal its initial bylaw with an updated version to avoid the same legal barriers that Victoria now faces.

In July 2019, the BC Court of Appeal struck down Victoria’s plastic bag ban stating that the city had power to enact bylaws that effect business regulations, but not environmental policies. The court found that as the bylaw was focused on environmental protection, the ban would have to receive approval by the BC Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to take effect.

Seeing the obstacles that Victoria is facing, Saanich repealed its plastic bag bylaw on Monday and unanimously approved to replace the regulation with a new version that will be presented directly to the minister. 

The district says the ban will now be delayed and no longer come into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, as it needs to be approved by the province.

“At this time, it is unknown whether the minister will be approving individual municipal bylaws and if so, how long approval will take,” reads a report by Saanich staff that was directed to council Monday.

If and when the replacement bylaw is approved, the plastic bag ban will come into effect 60 days after ministerial approval. The 60 day grace period is designed for business to adjust their bag inventories before the ban goes into effect. 

“The great thing, in my observation, is that despite the paperwork, despite the bylaw, despite the court challenges, the community is already on this issue,” said councillor Saanich Brice in the council meeting Monday.

“I think that the public and the industry and all of the intersections have this well on its way,” Brice added. “People have moved and want to do the right thing.”