City council rejects expanded Victoria Day shopping

Toronto council won’t open the city for shopping on Victoria Day, despite a recommendation from a subcommittee chaired by an East York councillor.

Last week the full council took no action on a proposal from the subcommittee that would have allowed retailers to open their doors on the Monday of the May 24 weekend anytime from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Toronto-Danforth Councillor Mary Fragedakis chaired the subcommittee that made the recommendation. The original proposal before the subcommittee was that retailers could open on Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day and Thanksgiving, but that was cut back to just Victoria Day.

Holiday shopping is already allowed in 81 Ontario municipalities. In Toronto, it’s permitted in designated tourist areas such as the Eaton Centre, Queen’s Quay Terminal and Bloor-Yorkville.

Gary Rygus of the Retail Council of Canada said Victoria Day shopping would be a start to leveling the playing field for retailers.

“Retailers should be open on any day they want to be open,” he said. “Other businesses are, so why not retail?”

He also said holiday shopping being available in tourist areas but not others confuses consumers.

“Retail reacts to what consumers want,” Rygus said. “And they want to shop.”

Allison Gray, a Home Depot employee, said she wouldn’t consider it unreasonable to work on the May 24 holiday.

“I think stores being open on Victoria Day would be all right. It would give people something to do,” Gray said. “I don’t know the reasons for having Victoria Day off in the first place.”

Rygus said his understanding is that employees who are asked to work on the holiday have the option to decline, and are protected by legislation.

One comment:

  1. City Council voted 36 -7 to support my motion to keep our current holiday shopping rules.

    In both an online and telephone survey, Torontonians stated they wanted the status quo. Of the 7,846 Torontonians voted in that consultation’s survey – about 67% were against any changes. Many retailers also opposed any changes – arguing that holidays are often the only time many in the retail trade – workers and owner/operators – get to be with their family.

    My goal in agreeing to chair the sub-committee was to make sure the voice of Torontonians was heard. I am pleased with the outcome and the level of public consultation on the issue.

    I would be really pleased to see a similar public consultation done to address the problem of vacant stores in our commercial retail strips.

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