A recent court decision over Victoria’s plastic bag ban will likely serve as a difficult precedent for other cities interested in nixing single-use plastics, but Salmon Arm’s mayor isn’t worried.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal from the City of Victoria, which sought to overturn a lower court ruling that had quashed the ban.
The ruling was the culmination of two years worth of litigation between the lobbyist group the Canadian Plastic Bag Association (CPBA) and the municipality.
The association argued the bylaw’s main goal was to target environmental issues, a provincial jurisdiction, and that the municipality had stepped out of line. In 2019, the BC Court of Appeals agreed, meaning that the city’s bylaw was dissolved until it got provincial approval. The city then applied for a leave to appeal that decision which the Supreme Court dismissed on Jan. 23.
Salmon Arm’s own plastic bag ban is fashioned closely after Victoria’s version which may raise the concern the bylaw would be susceptible to a similar suit.
“I think we are a long way along the process here in the city and most retailers have already moved to no plastic bags,” said Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison.
“Most residents have adjusted and are using reusable bags so I don’t think there is any turning back philosophically.”
Although jurisdiction restrictions for environmental laws remain, Harrison expects provincial legislation to come out this year giving such bylaws a greater legal footing.
“We’re ahead of the curve here in Salmon Arm and that’s a good thing,” he said.