The City of Victoria has announced its intention to ask the Supreme Court to weigh in on the municipality’s attempts to ban plastic bags in the city.
Victoria initially introduced a plastic bag ban for all businesses in July 2018 through a new ‘Checkout Bag Regulation’ bylaw with support from the BC Supreme Court.
This bylaw prohibited businesses from providing single-use plastic bags to customers, and instated a minimum 15 cent charge for all paper bags.
However this decision was struck down over a year later by the provincial appellate court which ruled that the city’s ban was enacted to facilitate the protection of the natural environment.
According to the Court of Appeals ruling, this is a move that requires approval from the provincial Minster of Environment, which was not sought.
At the time Victoria mayor Lisa Helps stated the municipality’s decision to fight the ruling, arguing that it is fundamentally within the jurisdiction of cities to regulate unsustainable business practices.
In an announcement today the city stated that the Supreme Court of Canada will be asked to review the BC Court of Appeals ruling, in hopes of having them reverse the decision.
“The BC Court of Appeal decision goes far beyond the issue of plastic bags. It strikes at the heart of the power of local governments to regulate business practices in line with 21st-century community values,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
“If the decision is allowed to stand it can potentially be interpreted to severely limit the power of local governments. This is why the City of Victoria is seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.”
The decision to approach the federal court is supported by mayors of other cities in the province like Tofino and Squamish.
“As Squamish works to develop a bylaw towards eliminating single use items, I wish to recognize the City of Victoria for taking continued leadership with the development of its original bylaw, and now as the City seeks leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada,” said Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott.
“Local governments of all sizes across Canada are grappling with complex issues such as climate change, environmental degradation, housing affordability, economic disruption, policing, and the list goes on.”
The City of Victoria has until September 30th to submit their appeal, after which the Supreme Court can take between four to six months to decide whether or not to hear it.