BC’s city of Victoria has won a court battle over its right to ban plastic bags. The Canadian Plastic Bag Association (CPBA) challenged the bylaw in B.C. Supreme Court in January, saying the city didn’t have the authority to enact the ban.
Giving Victoria a green signal, the court rejected that challenge.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps called it a win that could have an impact beyond city borders.
She said, “Today, we’ve been given permission by the courts to manage waste in a sustainable way and I think that’s a good thing.”
The bylaw, approved last December, prohibits grocery stores from offering or selling plastic bags to shoppers, although stores can still offer paper bags or reusable bags for a cost if customers ask.
The CPBA claimed councilors acted outside their jurisdiction because B.C. cities don’t have the authority to regulate the environment — that’s something that falls to the province.
But in his ruling, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Nathan Smith said the plastic bag bylaw works because cities have the power to regulate business transactions — in this case, giving a bag to a customer to carry goods they’ve purchased.
Smith said the bylaw also falls under a city’s responsibility to manage waste however it can.
Helps said, “This bylaw is basically those two things hand-in-hand.”
“This isn’t just a victory for the City of Victoria, it’s a victory for cities, because cities do have very limited powers,” Helps said.
Non-conforming businesses could face fines from $100 up to $10,000 by 2019.