(File photo)

Saanich’s ban on plastic bags could be seen as early as December 2019, after Saanich council unanimously approved the new bylaw in its first and second reading on Monday night.

Fines for Victoria’s plastic bag ban officially went into effect on January 1st, 2019, and Saanich is expected to follow suit.

The ban would prohibit retailers from giving out plastic bags for free in order to reduce plastic waste.

Back in August 2018, Saanich originally passed a motion to ban plastic bags in the municipality, but then decided to delay any action until the B.C. Supreme Court ruled on whether or not municipalities had jurisdiction on the issue.

Once B.C.’s Supreme Court ruled in favour of Victoria’s ban, Saanich proposed a timeline for establishing the new bylaw.

While the process for enacting the new bylaw was originally set to mirror Victoria’s – which includes a phase out period for the community to adjust and for businesses to use up their remaining plastic bag stock – some amendments were made Monday night.

One notable amendment is the removal of a 6 month grace period for businesses to use up their remaining plastic bag stock.

“The business community has seen this coming for months,” said Councillor Ned Taylor.

Council believes that both the business community and local consumers are prepared and eager to enact change.

However, Councillor Colin Plant noted that if the municipality receives negative feedback from the public, they will review their process.

“If the business community says they need more time, we need to listen,” said Plant.

The bylaw still has a third reading scheduled for May before it can be adopted. If Saanich sticks to their projected timeline, the bylaw will be passed in June, with an effective date sometime in December 2019.