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City to consider allowing shopping on Victoria Day

The city’s economic development committee has agreed to recommend to council that all stores and some pharmacies be allowed to open on Victoria Day beginning next year.

The committee made the decision after debating a proposal on Thursday to allow businesses to open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on four of nine stat holidays: Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day and Thanksgiving Day. The matter now goes before city council later this month.

Coun. Josh Colle said there was an imbalance in the city that needed to be addressed.

Coun. Paula Fletcher argued against the concept of allowing more shopping on the holidays. She said she found it shocking that the Toronto Eaton Centre announced it would be open on Easter Sunday next year, calling it a slippery slope.

Some stores are already allowed to open on statutory holidays if they are a certain type or size or are in a designated tourist area like the Eaton Centre.

Last September, the committee formed a subcommittee — councillors Josh Colle, Sarah Doucette and Mary Fragedakis — to study the requirements for businesses on stat holidays. The subcommittee recommended allowing stores to open on Victoria Day.

The city held stakeholder and public meetings and conducted surveys between November 2011 and July 2012.

“Although there was no consensus among the stakeholders, the consultations were successful in soliciting input and produced a better understanding and appreciation of the range of perspectives on this topic,” the city report stated.

City staff also reviewed holiday shopping rules in other municipalities and found 81 other jurisdictions in southern Ontario allow shopping on stats and that number is increasing.