toronto bag ban

Council throws out plastic bag ban bylaw

Toronto city council has voted 38-7 not to adopt a bylaw banning the sale of single use plastic bags, instead opting for further study into alternative ways of discouraging use of the shopping containers.

The result, which can be considered a victory for embattled mayor Rob Ford, essentially kills off any chance of the city preventing supermarkets handing out carrier bags to customers in the new year as planned. Instead, a study looking at different solutions will be presented in 2013.

Two separate interest groups, the Ontario Convenience Stores Association and the Canadian Plastic Bag Association, filed lawsuits against the city this month in protest at the way the ban was enacted earlier this year.

During a debate on the nickel checkout fee, a surprise motion by councillor David Shiner to ban plastic bags entirely passed 24-20, much to the anger of the mayor. Both plastic bag groups taking legal action against the city claimed the prohibition was enacted without proper consultations. It's not clear what effect today's decision will have on the intentions of the OCSA and CPBA.

Speaking before the vote, Councillor Gord Perks told Rob Ford "congratulations Mr. Mayor, you won, but the city of Toronto lost." Shortly after, councillor Doug Ford questioned the sense behind preventing the sale of cheap plastic bags, saying "What are you going to do? Walk out with grapes and fruit in your hand?".

Several other councillors, including Giorgio Mammoliti and deputy mayor Doug Holyday, said this was a chance to go back and re-examine the process that led to the ban, not an indictment of the idea itself.

As it stands, there will not be a return of the 5-cent bag fee either. It's possible the ban or another form of prohibition will be discussed again next summer.

How do you feel about the result - will it change the way you pick up groceries? Do you already bring re-usable carriers to the supermarket?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photo: "Harold Still Bargains" by Tsar Kasim in the blogTO Flickr pool.


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