The next chapter in the saga of the plastic bag ban will be determined on Thursday morning when a Supreme Court of Canada ruling for the City of Victoria’s leave to appeal is expected to come down.
In September 2019 the city filed the leave to appeal the B.C. Court of Appeals’ decision to quash its plastic bag ban. If granted, the City can then move to the next step in the court process and schedule a hearing to appeal the decision.
If the leave to appeal is dismissed, the lower courts’ decisions stands.
The Canadian Plastic Bag Association (CPBA) claims a plastic bag ban would “significantly impact” its members who manufacture and supply bags for the Victoria market. The association began lobbying the move in January 2018.
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 they would face heavy fines.
Originally, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in favour of the bylaw but the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned the decision and sided with the CPBA in July of 2019.
The Court of Appeal determined the bylaw needed provincial approval because it was not a business regulation but an environmental regulation. The City argues this is contrary to a principle previously mentioned by the Supreme Court of Canada. That principle states that law-making and implementation are often best achieved at a level of government closest to the citizens affected and therefore most responsive to their needs and to local distinctiveness.
According to the City of Victoria, since the bylaw was introduced the community has eliminated 17 million plastic bags from waste streams, resulting in both short-term and long-term cost savings for waste management.