Toronto faces legal challenge over plastic bag ban
The Ontario Convenience Stores Association is going to challenge the controversial ban on single-use plastic bags that the City of Toronto plans to implement within weeks.
Toronto's bag ban is set to come into effect on Jan. 1, though the OCSA, which represents thousands of convenience stores across the province, hopes to halt its implementation.
The OCSA opposes the draft bylaw on several grounds, saying it was approved without proper consultation, and the organization has retained legal counsel to move forward with legal action.
Dave Bryans, the CEO of the OCSA, said that convenience stores need to be able to provide single-use plastic bags to their customers in order to serve their needs.
"Torontonians don't normally drop into convenience stores with reusable bags," Bryans said in a statement released Thursday.
"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."
Jackie DeSouza, the city’s director of strategic communications, confirmed by email Thursday that the city had received a legal application challenging implementation of the bag ban.
"Given that this matter is now before the courts, the City cannot provide further comment," DeSouza said in the email.
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said Thursday that the city should defer the implementation of the bag-ban bylaw "until such time as we get some level of clarity about what this legal proceeding means."
The pending bag ban originated in a surprise council vote this past June, when Toronto Mayor Rob Ford tried to abolish an existing five-cent fee that shoppers had to pay for plastic bags.
But Coun. David Shiner moved a motion to ban retailers from providing customers with "single-use plastic carry-out [shopping] bags, including those advertised as compostable, biodegradable, photodegradable or similar effective Jan. 1, 2013."
That motion carried 24-20 and the bag ban was born. Last month, a motion to reopen the debate on the bag ban failed to gain enough support to do so.
The mayor and other opponents of the bag ban had long predicted that it could possibly trigger legal challenges.