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Montreal to hold public consultations on future of Publisac

Thousands of Montrealers signed a petition asking that flyers be sent only upon request.
Thousands of Montrealers signed a petition asking that flyers be sent only upon request. Cory McGraw/Global News

The City of Montreal announced on Wednesday it will hold public consultations in response to a growing number of calls to stop the mass distribution of Publisac, the plastic bags of flyers delivered on a weekly basis.

Last March, Montreal resident Charles Montpetit created a petition in hopes of getting more than 15,000 signatures required for the city to launch a public consultation.

The petition proposed to only distribute Publisacs to people who independently request them and to replace the plastic bags that hold the flyers with more echo-friendly packaging. A total of 16,601 people signed the petition.

The process will begin on Oct. 3 and residents who want to participate will have until Oct. 9 to register the city’s website.

The city’s committee on water, environment, sustainable development and parks will then hear from the public on Oct. 25, Oct. 30 and Nov. 1.

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READ MORE: Will you sign this petition against the Publisac in Montreal?

It will then present a set of recommendations to the city on Nov. 20. The city will then have six months to address the recommendations.

A Segma Recherche survey was conducted between July 20 and 31 among 1,123 Montreal residents. It was also conducted between July 15 and 19 among 250 businesses.

The poll’s results show that 78 per cent of the Montreal population currently receives a bag of printed flyers at home. The survey also revealed that people who said they flip through the flyers are above 55 years old.

Close to 82 per cent of respondents say they place the flyers into the recycling bin once they’re done. Of those who do place it into the recycling bin, only 43 per cent of them say they separate the paper from the plastic.

Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, a city councillor and the executive committee member responsible for ecological transition in Montreal, says there are concerns about the creation of waste from Publisacs.

“There is a really big impact on the environment that we have to consider,” she said on Wednesday.

The city also wants to consider the impact on local merchants who use the Publisacs as a marketing tool, she added.

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The majority of the businesses that distribute flyers in Publisacs surveyed by Segma Recherche estimate that an opt-in option would negatively impact their sales. However, eight out of 10 respondents — 81.5 per cent — were favourable to the opt-in option proposed in the petition.

The city said it wants to make sure every voice is heard before making a final decision.

“We will hear everything that people have to say from citizens to people that maybe going to be affected if we decide to go in the direction citizens want us to go,” said Lavigne Lalonde.

It could take up to one year for the city to decide whether it will implement a rule to limit the distribution of Publisacs.