Toronto

Toronto mayor aims to axe plastic bag fee

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will move ahead with a plan to eliminate the city's contentious five-cent plastic bag fee, his office confirmed.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will move ahead with a plan to eliminate the city's contentious five-cent plastic bag fee, his office confirmed.

The city's plastic bag bylaw, which went into effect on June 1, 2009, requires retailers to charge a nickel for every single-use plastic retail shopping bag requested by customers.

The bylaw was the first of its kind in a large Canadian city and was passed with the goal of reducing the amount of plastic being sent to landfills.

Ford, who took office earlier this month, was elected on a platform of cutting spending and taxes. He has already moved to scrap the $60 personal vehicle tax (PVT), but had not mentioned any specific plans to address the bag fee.

But that changed recently, said a spokeswoman for the mayor.

"The priority was to eliminate the unfair PVT, and as the mayor speaks with residents every day, the thorny issue of the bag tax keeps coming up," said Adrienne Batra in an email to CBC News. "People are sick and tired of being nickel and dimed to death, so he would like to address the elimination of the bag tax."

The city's bylaw contains no reporting or accounting provisions — retailers can simply pocket the proceeds from the fee. The city only "encourages" stores to spend the revenue on environmental or community initiatives.

A number of grocery stores such as the Metro and Sobey's chains have reported that their plastic bag distribution rates have fallen between 70 and 80 per cent since the bylaw went into effect.

Batra did not say when Ford intends to raise the issue in council. Ford would have to get the support of the majority of Toronto's 44-member council in order to scrap the fee.

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