Stores in Greater Sudbury still don’t have a choice in when they will be open or closed, as regulated shopping hours are still in place.
During the Feb. 9 city council meeting, a motion was put forth by Mayor Marianne Matichuk to repeal a bylaw that would deregulate store hours within the City of Greater Sudbury. Deregulating store hours was one item on Matichuks campaign platform during the municipal election last year.
The two-line motion requested the bylaw be repealed, essentially allowing businesses to set their own hours. Repealing the bylaw would not have affected Boxing Day or the statutory holiday in August.
Ward 9 Coun. Doug Craig said he didn’t feel it would make a huge difference if the bylaw was passed.
“We’re not promoting 24-hour, that’s up to the industry,” he said. “Quite frankly, if a year from now there’s a pharmacy in the city that stays open 24 hours a day, that wouldn’t upset me.”
We’re not promoting 24-hour, that’s up to the industry.
Ward 9 Coun.
Ward 3 Coun. Claude Berthiaume said none of his constituents have come to him asking that store hours be deregulated. He also said that stores being open longer would mean an added cost to the consumer.
“There will probably be more shoplifters so they’ll have to hire more security, especially at night,” he said. “We’ll need more police officers to provide security and we’ll need more snowplows to take care of the roads at night.”
Ward 1 Coun. Joe Cimino listed a number of topics he felt were more of a priority to be dealt with in the city, including homelessness, the need for a PET scan and crime reduction. Ward 5 Coun. Ron Dupuis said he agreed that council should be focusing on other topics.
“The decision we’re making...will impact thousands of lives,” he said. “We’re going to impact single moms, we’re going to impact students who do not have a life when they have to work Friday nights, Saturday nights and Sunday nights. What kind of social life do they have?”
Ward 10 Coun. Frances Caldarelli said she’s spoken with her constituents about the issue to let them know she doesn’t think the city should regulate store hours.
“I think you have to be careful that you don’t get left behind, and as a city I think we have to be careful,” she said. “If you don’t change or if you’re not willing to change, you do become a fossil.”
Ward 2 Coun. Jacques Barbeau spoke about change as well. He said when Sunday shopping was implemented, it caused prices to go up.
“If anybody thinks for a second that Sunday shopping all of a sudden gave you more money in your pocket, they need to see a psychiatrist,” he said. “I’m a little old fashioned and I still sit here as one of the younger councillors. I would like to see us go back to no Sunday shopping.”
However, the youngest councillor, Ward 8 Coun. Fabio Belli said he conducted a survey in his ward about regulated shopping hours. He said he spoke with 1,500 people and 69 per cent of them said they were in favour of deregulated store hours.
“People in this community want deregulated hours,” he said. “I think some people think it’s about 24 hours but it’s not about 24 hours. It’s about allowing businesses to open when they feel like it.”
Jeff Black, representative with the Retailer Wholesale and Department Store Union, said he was pleased the motion was defeated, and felt councillors had listened to their constituents and voted appropriately.
André Dumais, chair of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, said his organization is disappointed that city council won’t allow store owners to choose their own hours. “There’s a lot of solid arguments on both sides,” he said. “We continue to contend that deregulation of store hours is not about 24 hours, it’s not about Boxing Day...we polled our members. Our members are 85 per cent in favour of deregulating store hours.”
Matichuk said she was a little disappointed that council went against what the majority of the people in the community want and said she plans to move the issue forward.
Eight councillors voted against the motion, including Cimino, Barbeau, Berthiaume, Ward 4 Coun. Evelyn Dutrisac, Dupuis, Ward 6 Coun. André Rivest, Ward 11 Coun. Terry Kett and Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann.
Ward 7 Coun. Dave Kilgour, Belli, Craig, Caldarelli and Mayor Matichuk voted in favour of the motion.