WATCH: Saanich is poised to the become the second municipality in the region to ban single-use plastic bags after the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in favour of the ban in Victoria back in June. Saanich council will take a look at their own ban tonight, but as Kori Sidaway tells us, the whole issue isn’t out of the courts just yet.
UPDATE: Saanich council voted Monday to move forward with a proposed bylaw banning single-use plastic bags in the district, and it may happen sooner than originally planned. The bylaw had called for the ban to come into place six months after it was been adopted by council, likely in the late spring, and gave businesses a further six months to exhaust any remaining supplies of plastic bags. On Monday evening, council voted to look at the possibility of eliminating the second six month period, so the ban could come into effect as soon as January 1st, 2020.
In Saanich, plastic bags are still very much the norm. But that fine line that separates Victoria from Saanich may be set to change.
“I think it’s a great idea, and long overdue, I think plastics we need to get them out of the landfills!” said one shopper on Monday.
Saanich council will decide on their own plastic bag ban Monday night.
“I think this is a common sense move,” said Saanich Coun. Zac de Vries.
“We need to close our linear system of waste and a first quick way to do that is to ban single-use plastic bags. I think we’re going to be moving this forward, it’s going to have to come by for a final reading down the road, but I don’t see any hiccup here.”
The municipality is using Victoria’s plastic bag ban, which took effect July 1, as a template.
“I think it was smart to go with the Victoria model because it withstood court challenges so we don’t have to worry about any credible court challenge,” said de Vries.
And while the B.C. Supreme Court rejected a challenge by the Canadian Plastic Bag Association back in June, the group says the issue isn’t out of the courts just yet.
“The Canadian Plastic Bag Association believes the judge has erred and did not consider one bit of environmental impacts, they’re one of the most highly reused items across Canada,” said the Canadian Plastics Industry Associations Vice President of Sustainability Joe Hruska.
“Saanich should probably monitor that because we believe they don’t have the environmental jurisdiction, it was passed under a business bylaw and we think the judge erred.”
The appeal hasn’t yet been formally filed. When it is filed, the case will go ahead of the B.C. Court of Appeal.
But in the meantime, the City of Victoria stands in its plastic ban decision.
“[Single-use products] costs a lot of the taxpayer to manage those materials and it costs a lot for the earth to provide resources for things that quickly become waste after one or a few uses,” said Fraser Work, the city of Victoria’s director of engineering and public works.
A recent report published by the District of Saanich shows the average resident of Saanich uses 200 plastic bags, that’s 23 million plastic bags used every year that would be saved by the ban.
“That was an eye-opening statistic and it speaks to just how much we much waste we could reduce with this simple policy,” said de Vries.
And regardless of legal appeals, both regions have an eye on eliminating all single-use plastics. The city of Victoria is planning to unveil their zero waste strategy later this year, with Saanich, seemingly right on its heels.