Shoppers are rejoicing in Sudbury after 51 percent of voters opted to change shopping hours with a referendum on Monday’s municipal election. The vote will now allow businesses there a choice of their hours and when they are open. Allowing 24 hour shopping if the business wants to offer it.
Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury were the two holdouts in Northern Ontario that does not allow holiday shopping on such dates as Boxing Day and the August Civic Holiday. That’s about to change in the Nickel city and it’s probably only a matter of time before the new Mayor and Council in the Sault revisit the question again following Sudbury’s lead.
“If there’s a public will for change it would have to come forward with a petition for change” said David Poluck from the Sault Ste. Marie Association of Ratepayers. Poluck ran for a Ward 3 seat but lost by a few hundred votes.
In 2010, his group was instrumental working with council on a plebiscite question surrounding Boxing Day shopping in Sault Ste. Marie. At the time voter turnout was 46 percent but 64 percent of those voters did not want stores open on December 26th. The bylaw stood. Up to now Sudbury was the same way, but in a vote yesterday, Sudbury shoppers and local businesses will decide business hours in the future.
In Sudbury 75 percent voted in favour of deregulating store hours, 62 percent voted in favour of stores being open on the August Civic holiday and 61 percent voted yes to Boxing Day shopping on December 26th.
Poluck told Saultonline.com Tuesday morning that if the city thinks about following Sudbury, the same process would have to be followed as with the 2010 municipal election.
“I think we should start looking at the bigger picture and not focus on one day – a holiday for everyone. The important thing is to get a bigger pie” Poluck said stressing the city needs to grow and therefore earn local businesses a better opportunity in the marketplace.
The issue has always been a heated one in the Sault, with shoppers able to cross the border where stores are open. A vocal minority in the Sault want businesses to have a choice on whether to open on Boxing Day or not. Currently retail stores are not allowed to open on Boxing Day December 26th and the Civic Holiday in August. Stores are also closed on most Statutory holidays such as July 1st, Victoria Day and Christmas Day in Sault Ste. Marie.