Plastic Bag Bylaw Overturned

Supreme Court of Canada leave to appeal denied. Victoria, was required to, and did not, get provincial approval to make a bylaw relating to an environmental concern. Bylaw concerning plastic bags was not a bylaw relating to business.

The BC Court of Appeal had this to say:

[1]           Over the last few years, the accumulation of plastic waste in marine environments has come to public attention in British Columbia. It is now apparent that many plastics are resistant to degradation by natural processes and at risk of being ingested by aquatic species, wildlife and people. This appeal is about an attempt by the City of Victoria to cut the number of plastic ‘checkout’ bags being discarded and entering waterways, both locally and globally. Under the governing statute, the Community Charter, S.B.C. 2003, c. 26, municipal laws that regulate “in relation to” the protection of the natural environment require the approval of the provincial Minister of Environment. The City contended, and the court below found, that a bylaw enacted by Victoria that prohibited merchants from providing plastic bags to customers was not an environmental law, but one “in relation to” business — and that it therefore did not require the Minister’s approval. For the reasons that follow, I find the bylaw was one relating to the protection of the environment, that the Province’s approval was required, and that the appeal must therefore be allowed.



Source: 2019 BCCA 254 (CanLII) | CanLII