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Toronto city councillors to consider whether to allow more holiday shopping

Retailers across Toronto would be free to open their doors on four statutory holidays if council backs a new report on holiday shopping.

City staff are recommending that every store in the city be allowed to do business between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day and Thanksgiving Day.

Most stores would remain closed on Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Family Day, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

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The proposal is a compromise on a issue that has a long and contentious history at Toronto city council, which last shelved the topic before the 2010 election.

At the time, the economic development committee endorsed shopping 365 days a year, but council opted to postpone the vote to allow for more public consultation.

Toronto gained control of holiday shopping rules in 2006.

The municipal government inherited a patchwork of exemptions from Queen's Park, which allowed retailers in previously designated tourism zones such as the Eaton Centre, Bloor-Yorkville and Queen's Quay Terminal to open on holidays.

That put stores in other parts of the city at a disadvantage, supporters of year-round shopping argued.

The new city staff report, released Tuesday, found that 81 municipalities in southern Ontario permit holiday shopping.

Of those, 60 per cent exempt the entire town or city – rather than designated tourism zones – and at least 90 per cent allow stores to open on Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day and Thanksgiving Day.

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The holiday shopping report goes to the economic development committee next week and to the full council at the end of the month.

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