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Legal Challenge Coming to Toronto’s Plastic Bag Ban

Ontario Convenience Stores Association taking Toronto to court over its new plastic bag regulations.

Photo by {a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/41737671@N07/7799273350/"}alisdair jones{/a} from the {a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/torontoist"}Torontoist Flickr Pool{/a}.

It hasn’t taken effect yet, but a legal challenge to Toronto’s new plastic bag ban is forthcoming from the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA).

The wording of the new bylaw was approved just yesterday by the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee; it is scheduled to go for a final vote at the next full city council meeting on November 27. The ban was introduced in a surprise move earlier this year, when Rob Ford fought to eliminate the five-cent bag fee that was introduced under David Miller. Council agreed to eliminate the fee—but then went ahead and decided to ban the bags altogether. That new rule is set to take effect January 1, 2013.

A notice of application was served on the City of Toronto today, announcing the civil suit. According to a news release issued this afternoon, OCSA has several issues with the ban and is challenging it on the grounds that it falls outside the municipal government’s jurisdiction, and also that public consultation was insufficient.

More generally, it seems that their worry is that a bag ban will unfairly limit convenience store owners’ livelihood. Dave Bryans, OCSA’s CEO, comments that “Torontonians don’t normally drop into convenience stores with reusable bags. If merchants are prohibited from providing plastic bags, shoppers will be less likely to make purchases and that will mean Toronto’s small, family-run convenience stores will be hit hardest.”

Yesterday, Public Works chair Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) voted for the ban, but also said that “We’re leaving it to the private sector to save us from our own madness…by hopefully taking this to court and having it overturned.” It seems the councillor is getting at least the first part of his wish. The City was not able to immediately confirm whether the legal proceedings would mean that the new bylaw will be put on hold until a judge has ruled on the matter.

Ontario Convenience Stores Association vs. The City of Toronto

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