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A customer leaves a Sobeys grocery store carrying a plastic bag, in a July 31, 2019, file photo.CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters

The British Columbia government has reviewed and approved a bylaw proposed by the District of Saanich that will allow the Victoria-area suburb to eliminate single-use plastic grocery bags.

A statement on the district’s website says it was informed earlier this week that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy had approved the bylaw, marking a crucial step toward its final adoption.

A similar bylaw against single-use plastic bags was proposed by the city of Victoria in 2018 but was struck down by the courts following a challenge from the Canadian Plastic Bag Association, which argued the city did not have the authority to address environmental issues.

The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear Victoria’s appeal of the ruling earlier this year.

As the Victoria ban worked its way through the courts, Saanich councillors revised their bylaw and submitted it directly to the Environment Minister for approval, avoiding a legal battle with opponents of the bag ban.

The Saanich bylaw will be presented to council for final adoption and the district says, if approved, the new rules will take effect 60 days later.

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says there are many creative options for people, rather than single-use bags.

“Reducing the negative impacts that discarded plastic bags have on the environment and our municipal facilities and services is a small but significant step,” he says in the statement.

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