Montreal

Montreal mayor 'disappointed' city's weekly flyer ban may be circumvented by Canada Post

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante slammed Canada Post for providing a means for plastic bags stuffed with advertisements to be delivered to residents, thereby circumventing a municipal ban slated to come into effect next year.

Crown corporation might deliver Publisacs despite concerns from postal workers' union

According to the city of Montreal, flyers like those found in Publisacs represent approximately 11 per cent of all materials that end up in the city's sorting centres. (Denis Gervais/Radio-Canada)

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante slammed Canada Post for providing a means for plastic bags stuffed with advertisements to be delivered to residents, thereby circumventing a municipal ban slated to come into effect next year.

"I am disappointed and angry that you have to fight to enforce a law," said Plante during a news conference Thursday.

Weekly flyer-stuffed plastic bags containing circulars, coupons and local newspapers — dubbed Publisac in Quebec — will be prohibited by default starting in May 2023, except for residents who have requested them via a sticker on their door or mailbox.

While the company behind the distribution of Publisacs has been fighting the ban in Montreal and neighbouring Mirabel, Canada Post has stepped up to the plate for TC Transcontinental.

TC Transcontinental says municipalities cannot force Canada Post to follow such municipal bylaws, and the Crown corporation agrees.

The company is challenging the Mirabel and Montreal bylaws in court.

Among its arguments, the company says the opt-in system is not a profitable model and that any municipal bylaw preventing distribution violates freedom of expression guaranteed by the Canadian and Quebec charters of rights.

However, city officials say Publisacs are an environmental disaster.

"Every week, some 800,000 flyers and other unsolicited advertisements are distributed in the metropolis, some of which are neither wanted nor used," Plante has said.

"In the end, more than 40 million flyers per year fill the sorting centres or, worse, end up in landfills or in bundles that go to India."

These flyers represent approximately 11 per cent of all materials that end up in Montreal's sorting centres, the city says.

Now Canada Post "does not seem to care" about the city's bylaw, Plante said Thursday.

In late September, Montreal city council unanimously adopted a statement calling on the Crown corporation to respect the ban and on Ottawa to intervene.

The Montreal Metropolitan Community (CMM) has also called on the federal government to intervene, but so far nothing has been done and that's disappointing, Plante said.

"As far as I know, the climate crisis is happening at the municipal, provincial and federal level, at all three levels," she said.

On Thursday, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) said the distribution of the Publisac would lead to an overload of work for letter carriers and that it would file a grievance.

Last month, Alain Robitaille, president of the Montreal section of the union, said making mail carriers deliver these bags of ads and local newspapers would "bring a burden that transforms people's daily lives."

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