10/02/2012 04:05 EDT | Updated 12/01/2012 05:12 EST

Toronto Plastic Bag Ban: Council To Revisit Ban Amid Threat Of Legal Action

AP File
A man walks along the street with plastic bags in Los Angeles, Thursday, May 24, 2012. Now that the city of Los Angeles has taken the first step toward banning plastic bags, it appears the little utilitarian bags themselves may be headed for the trash heap of history. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

TORONTO - Toronto city council voted Wednesday not to revisit its decision to ban plastic bags on Jan. 1, 2013.

Only 18 of the city's 45 councillors voted in favour of reopening the discussion, falling well short of the two-thirds needed to pass the motion.

The vote upholds a motion passed in June that saw council approve a motion to scrap a five-cent bag levy for the remainder of 2012 before implementing a ban next year.

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association contends the ban violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and has said it plans to pursue legal action if the ban goes into effect.

Councillors opposed to the ban had voiced concerns that it was rushed through without adequate input from the public after Coun. David Shiner tacked it onto the levy-elimination motion.

"It's not the public that's outraged about this," Shiner said. "There's 3.5 million in the city. I got eight phone calls."

"People understand that it's the right thing to do now and for the future," he said.

Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti disagreed, saying the majority of Torontonians want council to reopen the issue.

Toronto solicitor Anna Kinastowski had been scheduled to deliver a report analyzing the potential legal ramifications of implementing the ban, but did not address council before Wednesday's vote.

Mayor Rob Ford _ a vocal opponent of the ban _ said the city had no valid rebuttal to any legal challenges.

"We're going to court, and we're going to lose," Ford said last weekend. "We talked to our legal staff and they said we don't have a leg to stand on."

Shiner said the proposed bylaw will be discussed in November's council meeting at the Public Works Committee.

"Council made a decision. There's a ban in place as of the first of January," said Shiner. "The question is the bylaw that gets implemented."

Marion Axmith, director general of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, said her group doesn't agree with the ban and doesn't want to see a bylaw.

"Plastic bags are a necessity, they're useful," Axmith said.

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