Sidney joins other Greater Victoria municipalities in taking a wait-and-see approach on banning single-use plastic bags. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney handles plastic bags with wait-and-see approach

Officials say they will wait for courts and provincial action concerning single-use plastic bags

Sidney is joining other Greater Victoria municipalities in taking a wait-and-see approach on banning single-use plastic bags.

Councillors Tuesday voted to receive a report from staff detailing local efforts to ban such bags. This decision comes after B.C.’s Court of Appeal had ruled against the City of Victoria and its bylaw banning single-use plastic bags.

The Canadian Plastic Bag Association (CPBA) filed the successful appeal after it had lost a lower court ruling.

The new ruling found that Victoria’s definition of the bylaw’s purpose was not consistent with its effects. Victoria said the dominant purpose of the bylaw was to protect the natural environment, rather than a business regulation. In that case, Victoria required approval from the Ministry of the Environment, which it did not seek out.

RELATED: Saanich to review ruling on Victoria plastic bag ban

Sidney’s wait-and-see approach aligns with actions taken by Saanich and unfolds against the backdrop of provincial efforts concerning plastics. Sidney, represented by Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith, has signed a joint submission that asks the provincial government to supply a “process” for local governments choosing to ban single-use plastics, as well as offer “clarity” on the authority of local government in relation to the protection of the natural environment.

“Given the B.C. Court of Appeal ruling with respect to Victoria’s single-use plastic bag ban, and the joint submission to the province regarding the Provincial Plastics Action Plan, it may be an efficient use of staff time to start working on a single-use plastic bag ban bylaw only after the province provides local governments the authority to do so,” said Jenn Clary, Sidney’s director of engineering.

Coun. Peter Wainwright said in an interview with the Peninsula News Review that he is fine with waiting. “A lot of businesses are doing this on their own already and we could spend time doing our bylaw to find that the province rolls out its own ban,” he said. “Many people are making their own choice not to use single-use plastic bags.”

Sidney formally started to look into the issue in June after councillors received a presentation from Margot Arndt, a nine-year old student from Deep Cove Elementary School, during which she highlighted the environmental and economic benefits of banning the bags.


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