Victoria reconsiders timing of plastic bag ban
Victoria city staff are recommending that the city's single-use plastic bag ban be delayed to next year so that businesses have time to adjust.
VICTORIA -- Victoria city council is set to discuss the municipality’s checkout bag regulation bylaw, which bans the use of single-use plastic bags at local businesses, at a council meeting Thursday.
The city’s first plastic bag ban was passed in January 2018. Shortly after, however, the bylaw was challenged by the Canadian Plastic Bag Association which claimed that the city required provincial approval to enact a bylaw based on environmental grounds.
The bylaw was first upheld by the BC.. Supreme Court but was then overturned by the B.C. Court of Appeal in 2019.
In March 2020, the city amended its bylaw and had it approved by the B.C. government shortly before the province declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city then decided to pause putting the bylaw into effect “to allow time for business health and safety procedures to be understood and established,” said city staff in a report submitted to council last Thursday.
Now, city staff are recommending that Victoria delay adopting the checkout bag regulation bylaw until April 15, 2021, approximately six months from now.
Staff are encouraging the delay because the specific bylaw proposal that was approved by the B.C. government lists the bylaw as coming into effect immediately.
If the city were to change its proposal to include a grace period, staff say that the proposal would have to be reviewed and approved by the province yet again.
City staff are recommending that Victoria announce that the bylaw will be adopted on April 15 so that businesses have time to plan for the change.
Victoria city staff note that in 2018, before the bylaw was struck down, all 137 businesses that were inspected by the city at the time were in compliance of the bylaw and had stopped using single-use plastic bags.
Staff say that local business representatives are largely in support of adopting the plastic bag ban again, though some concerns were identified, including a lack of alternatives for some take-out focused restaurants and the added cost of other safety measures that have arisen due to COVID-19.
Victoria city council will review the staff report at an upcoming committee of the whole meeting Thursday.
Last week, the federal government announced that it would be banning a range of single-use plastic items across the county by the end of 2021.
Those single-use plastic items include plastic grocery bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery and food containers that are made out of hard-to-recycle plastics.