British Columbia | Sustainability

BC single-use bylaw updates

February 24, 2021

Post updated as of April 12, 2021

RCC has a Plastics Committee to which updates on single-use bag (cup, straw and utensil) bylaws are posted.  BC has had an amount of recent activity by local governments enacting bylaws.  (1) and (2 a and b) (below) are reflected on the RCC web page. (2 c and d) and (3) will be added when details are confirmed.

RCC understands that the Province will issue a Ministerial Order under the Community Charter (local-government enabling legislation) to govern the implementation of local single-use bylaws. RCC has scheduled a meeting on March 16 with Government to provide information about the timeline with respect to using up existing supplies of plastic bags, acquisition of paper bags with 40% or greater recycled content, and, a standardized list of exemptions. RCC will update this page as required.

1. City of Vancouver is scheduled to begin their bag and cup bylaws (delayed) January 1, 2022.  Their straw and utensil bylaws were in effect April 22, 2020.  Their take-out food container ban of extended polystyrene began January 1, 2020.

2. Of the five municipalities whose bag bylaws were approved by the Province in September 2020:

  1. City of Victoria becomes effective April 15, 2021
  2. Tofino and Ucluelet are already in effect
  3. Richmond indicates they are waiting until the pandemic emergency ends. Richmond does not plan to mandate fees or have minimum requirements for paper or reusable bags, they only plan to ban single-use plastic bags.
  4. Saanich has approved their bylaw. The implementation date will be August 20, 2021. RCC has both written to Saanich Council and met with staff to indicate our concern about the impacts of such a short implementation period.

3. Four bylaws were approved by the Province on February 12, 2021:

  1. Nanaimo passed their bylaw February 22, 2021. The bylaw takes effect July 1, 2021. RCC has written council to indicate our opposition to such a short-notice implementation, and to suggest a 26-week time-frame between the passage of the bylaw and implementation. The Mayor of Nanaimo indicated no desire to change the effective date in his email response to RCC.
  2. Surrey’s implementation plans are uncertain.
  3. Esquimalt’s bylaw will go to council later this spring. RCC will update members when more information is available.
  4. Rossland passed their bylaw on March 8, 2021, coming into effect immediately.

4. Squamish: 

RCC does not provide members with legal advice. RCC’s position is that the Squamish bylaw needs approval by the Province before they can enact it (because it is substantively similar to the City of Victoria bylaw struck down by a BC Court of Appeal decision). Squamish has been in touch with the Ministry about bylaw approval. 

5. Chilliwack

Chilliwack will submit a single-use plastic bylaw proposal to the province for approval.  The draft bylaw:

  • bans single-use plastic shopping bags and plastic straws (except accessible straws upon request),
  • specifies a 10 cent fee for paper bags and single-use beverage cups, and
  • requires that single-use plastic utensils only be provided at customer request.

Chilliwack’s draft bylaw differs from other municipal bylaws in that it requires a customer service prompt for bag purchase.  The draft bylaw is silent on a fee for reusable bags.  Chilliwack’s bylaw proposal requires provincial approval.

Be heard. Save money. Stay informed.

Become a member