Mayor Rob Ford wants to scrap the five-cent charge for plastic bags by this summer, but first he needs to persuade a majority of councillors to support his plan.
The city's executive committee has endorsed a proposal by Mr. Ford to end the city-mandated charge by July 1, a decision that will go to council next month.
Mr. Ford, long a critic of the levy – which the city requires merchants to collect, but does not receive any of the fees – describes it as an unnecessary tax that has served its purpose.
"Just listen to the taxpayers," Mr. Ford said after the vote, urging supporters of his position to call their councillors " They don't want to pay it any more."
Mr. Ford said it's up to individual businesses to decide if they want to donate some of the money they collect from the bag fee to a worthy cause, but he wants no part in requiring them to impose it.
"It's ridiculous. They are making millions, millions and millions of dollars off these plastic bags," he told the committee. "At least now that it is not mandatory," the mayor said, "you can say I am not paying."
The committee also recommended encouraging retailers to direct some of the money from the estimated $5.4-million they collect annually from the charge to preserving the city's tree canopy.
Executive committee member Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, the only one to vote against the mayor's plan to kill the fee, wants to keep the charge as a way to raise badly needed money to protect the city's trees.
Despite the mayor's opposition, she believes she has a majority of councillors on her side. "The battle is lost here today but we'll see what happens on the council floor," she said. "The political reality is that the councillors by and large want to keep this in place because they know it is effective."