Toronto

Toronto council approves plastic bag charge, bottle ban

Toronto has approved a controversial decision that will force consumers to pay for plastic shopping bags.

Toronto has approved a controversial decision that will force consumers to pay for plastic shopping bags.

The five-cent-a-bag charge will take effect on June 1.

Doug Holyday, one of the councillors who voted against the move, said it should be seen for what it is —  another tax imposed by City Hall.

"We've done nothing but increase costs around here. It's been mentioned about all the water increases, the tax increases and the new taxes. We've got to quit doing that. We've got to come up with some concrete solutions here that don't raise taxes, that make us more efficient."

Council also voted to ban the sale of water in plastic bottles at City Hall and civic centres.  The ban will be extended to other city property by 2011.

Lobbyists for the bottled water industry tried to delay the ban.

But Coun. Gord Perks said any move to postpone the change would have been irresponsible and unnecessary.

"It is astonishing to me that people would actually argue in this council that there is some great privation out there, some tremendous risk that we are creating, some lack of freedom of choice in terms of access to bottled water. Shame on you if you fall for that argument."

City council also called on food-service retailers to develop reusable or refillable takeout containers by December 2010.

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