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Toronto faces second lawsuit over plastic bag ban

The City of Toronto has a second lawsuit on its hands since announcing in June that it was banning plastic shopping bags.

The Canadian Plastic Bag Association, an advocacy organization representing plastic bag manufacturers and distributors, filed legal papers Tuesday in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice seeking to quash the ban.

The bag ban will come into effect on Jan. 1, but city staff have said offenders will not be fined during the first six months when the emphasis will be placed on educating people on alternatives to plastic bags.

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The CPBA is arguing that the ban is unlawful and "it was passed in bad faith," according to a written statement.

"As Toronto City Council gave no notice, undertook no public consultation, carried out no due diligence, and received no advice prior to adopting the plastic bag ban, the bag ban resolution ought to be quashed for having been passed in bad faith," said Joe Hruska, a spokesman for the CPBA.

Last week, the city's public works committee invited deputants to speak on the bylaw drafted to implement the ban. The majority of the approximately 20 deputants got turned away by the committee's chair, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, because they came to speak about the pros and cons of the ban. Mr. Minnan-Wong stressed that the ban had already been passed and that deputants could only speak about how the ban would be implemented.

Contrary to what Mr. Hruska said, Councillor Gord Perks, also on the public works committee, said the city had conducted extensive consultations in 2008 while deciding whether to ban plastic bags or implement a bag fee.

Sally Potter, a spokeswoman for the CPBA, said that since 2008, plastic shopping bags have been added to recycling bins, and that the province has seen a 50 per cent reduction in the number of plastic bags being distributed. Ms. Potter said a recent CPBA poll showed that two out of three Torontonians would rather reduce, reuse and recycle than see a ban.

After last week's deputations, Mr. Minnan-Wong publicly stated that he did not agree with the ban, and said he hoped the private sector would sue the city.

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association, representing convenience store owners, launched the first lawsuit against the city on Nov. 15 seeking a reversal of the bag ban.

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