Once again, Victoria council overstepped its bounds; once again, council’s hands have been slapped for something it did — namely, imposing a plastic bag ban without getting the proper approval from the provincial government.
This time, let’s hope that the province can approve the city’s action quickly, and let’s hope that businesses in Victoria do not slide back into old habits. The ban is not to everyone’s liking — and certainly not the Canadian Plastic Bag Association, which argued against it all the way to the B.C. Court of Appeal — but it was the right thing to do. The plastic bag ban should stay.
The appeals court found that the bylaw’s primary purpose was to protect the natural environment rather than to regulate business. Because of that, the city should have sought provincial approval for the bylaw. It did not do that, despite being warned that the approval was necessary, leading to the court’s decision on Thursday.
Yes, plastic bags are useful, but there should be no question that they are bad for the environment. That is why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a nationwide ban on single-use plastics in two years, more or less.
That is also why other jurisdictions have been leaping on the Victoria bandwagon, bringing in their own bag bans. We have been leading the country on this issue, setting the example for others to follow – just as we have on other major decisions, such as our stringent anti-smoking rules two decades ago. Victoria councillors catch a lot of flak for wading into areas outside municipal jurisdiction at the expense of those within, but it’s hard to blame them for being ahead of the curve on this one.
The plastic bag ban is justified. Let’s not let a bit of paperwork dissuade us.