Council votes to scrap bag fee...And BAGS
Counting recesses and a lunch break, Toronto City Councillors met for about 11 hours at City Hall on Wednesday; and about nine-and-a-half of those were spent debating a motion on whether to drop the City's five-cent fee retailers are mandated to levy on shoppers who want palstic bags.
The final verdict: The bag fee is done. It will be officially repealed as of July 1st.
However, a set of amendments brought up during the debate has taken things a step further. By a narrow 24-20 margin, a motion put forard by veteran Councillor David Shiner has led to the declaration that retailers will soon be banned from distributing single-use plastic bags to shoppers as of January 1, 2013.
Shiner says his motion kills two birds with one stone, "we've gotten rid of the fee, and we're getting rid of the bag, and that's really what we want to do...the right thing for the environment and the right thing for the residents of Toronto."
The ban even covers bags advertised as being biodegradable or photodegradable.
Critics of the move say it hurts the City's relationship with retailers because they weren't consulted, and also opens the City up to legal issues. Councillors had the choice of running the idea by City legal staff before voting, but a majority of them voted not to do so.
"City legal staff have concerns over all types of things," says Shiner. "It's time now that Council made a decision and City legal staff support that decision and make sure that we can put this ban in place."
With this vote, the Toronto joins cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle in banning single-use plastic bags. San Francisco is currently facing a lawsuit over the decision.
The following is a list of how Councillors voted on the bag ban:
Maria Augimeri, Ana Bailão, Michelle Berardinetti, Shelley Carroll, Raymond Cho, Josh Colle, Gary Crawford, Janet Davis, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Sarah Doucette, Paula Fletcher, Mary Fragedakis, Mike Layton, Pam McConnell, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Joe Mihevc, Peter Milczyn, Ron Moeser, Gord Perks, Anthony Perruzza, Jaye Robinson, David Shiner, Adam Vaughan, Kristyn Wong-Tam
Paul Ainslie, Vincent Crisanti, Mike Del Grande, Frank Di Giorgio, John Filion, Doug Ford, Rob Ford, Mark Grimes, Doug Holyday, Norman Kelly, Chin Lee, Gloria Lindsay Luby, Giorgio Mammoliti, Josh Matlow, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Frances Nunziata (Chair), Cesar Palacio, John Parker, James Pasternak, Michael Thompson