York region council votes to allow shopping 364 days a year

Retail businesses in York region's nine municipalities will be able to remain open on public holidays as of Jan. 1.
Retail businesses in York region's nine municipalities will be able to remain open on public holidays as of Jan. 1. Global News

Starting next year, shoppers north of Toronto may be able to hit up their favourite stores every day of the year, except on Christmas.

A bylaw giving all retail businesses the choice to remain open 364 days a year passed 17-3 at a York Regional Council meeting on Thursday.

The move affects the region’s nine municipalities, including Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Newmarket and Markham.

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On the Kelly Cutrara Show on Thursday, Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti explained why he voted against the measure.

“What really concerned me is that we’ve made a decision here that’s going to impact thousands of retail workers,” he said. “We’ve made a decision in a very short turn around without any public consultation.”

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“I can’t think of another issue that impacts so many people where we didn’t go out and have some opportunity for the public to come out and share their views,” he said.

LISTEN: Frank Scarpitti joins the Kelly Cutrara show on AM640

A York council staff report recommending the bylaw change said staff consulted with the region’s municipalities and the business community through representatives of the chambers of commerce and business improvement areas.

All of the municipalities except two (Vaughan was unable to provide feedback) supported the move.

“The business community feedback mirrored the feedback of the local municipalities,” the report stated.

The new rules, which take effect on Jan. 1, are designed to establish consistent rules for retail businesses across the region, the report states.

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Previously, certain types of business, including those that could be considered tourist attractions, were granted exemptions to remain open on Ontario’s nine statutory holidays on a case-by-case basis. Thirty-one exemptions have been granted in York since 1995.

That practice was based on provincial legislation, the Retail Business Holidays Act, which was updated last year to grant municipalities the right to pass their own holiday opening bylaws if they choose.