Fredericton seeks public input on Sunday shopping changes

Fredericton city council wants public input on whether store owners should be able to set their own Sunday shopping hours.

Council considering amending bylaw to allow retailers to set their own hours

Fredericton city council wants public input on possible changes to Sunday shopping.

City staff will begin drafting bylaw changes that would allow store owners to set their own hours.

But Mayor Brad Woodside says citizens will have a chance to express their views on the issue at the July 22 council meeting.

"Going to the preparation of a bylaw, first and second reading, which historically has always been an opportunity for people for and against to speak. And then it rests to council on third reading to make the final decision on just exactly what that's going to turn out to be."

Woodside expects council will vote on the contentious issue on Aug. 12.

Stores in the capital city are currently only allowed to open between noon and 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Council has already heard from retailers on the matter.

The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce contends the majority of businesses in the city want the choice on when they can open their doors on Sundays.

Of the 70 retail members surveyed, 65 per cent of respondents supported individual businesses being able to pick what hours they were open on Sundays, according to the business group.

However, 21 per cent of respondents in the unscientific poll did not want the hours to change, while 14 per cent wanted Sunday shopping eliminated.

Last month, council-in-committee narrowly voted to amend the bylaw and send the matter to council for debate.

The debate over Sunday shopping was reopened when the Retail Council of Canada announced it wanted both the New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island governments to throw out rules restricting retail business hours on Sundays.

Retailers in Fredericton have called on the city to update its Sunday shopping bylaw in the past.