Report: Toronto Mayor urges council to kill five-cent bag fee

Posted May 13, 2012 by Andrew Moran
According to a draft obtained by a local news outlet, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is urging his fellow city councillors to end the three-year-old five-cent bag tax that was mandated to businesses across the city.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
In the summer of 2009, then Toronto Mayor David Miller imposed a mandate that forces all businesses in the city to charge five cents (plus one cent due to the Harmonized Sales Tax) on plastic bags. The purpose was to decrease the level of plastic bags and for the retail outlets to donate the proceeds to environmental initiatives.
During the 2010 mayoral campaign, Rob Ford proclaimed that he would eventually repeal the fee in his first term. In a draft report obtained by the Toronto Sun, the mayor will encourage councillors to end the bylaw as of June 1.
On Monday, the mayor and his executive committee will discuss a staff report urging business to voluntarily donate the fee to the city’s tree canopy program, in which they could claim a charitable donation and apply a notice to indicate they support the canopy program. Ford’s motion, however, still insinuates businesses will charge the bag tax and advocates the city to work with outlets to donate to the tree canopy project.
“There is no doubt the plastic bag fee has accomplished its public policy goal. Consumer behaviour has been changed and the amount of plastic bags going to landfill has been drastically reduced,” Ford wrote in his motion. “The bag fee was seen by many residents of Toronto as a ‘tax’ imposed by the city. As such, it is highly unpopular among many residents.”
The mayor added that since the city does not receive any revenue many people consider the fee to be an “unreasonable intrusion in the private marketplace” and a “burden on their pocketbooks.”
Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail is reporting that Michelle Berardinetti, an executive committee member, is attempting to keep the bag fee in order to maintain Toronto’s trees. The city has a major hurdle to overcome to replace its aging trees. It is expected to cost the city $10 million per year over the next six years because of the destruction caused by the emerald ash borer.