Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti blasted York Region council for their decision to uphold a controversial holiday shopping bylaw.

On Nov. 16, regional council voted, 17-3, in favour of enacting a bylaw to permit local retailers to open on statutory holidays, should they choose to, with the exception of Christmas Day. The purpose: to establish a consistent approach to retail operations in York Region. Stores will now be permitted to open on New Year’s Day, Family Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day and Thanksgiving Day. While retailers don’t have to open, many will, in an attempt to stay competitive. The bylaw is effective on Jan. 1.

On Dec. 14, councillors upheld their decision, despite the protests by dozens of retail workers and union representatives who filled York Region council chambers to argue how the democratic process was being ignored.

In a statement, released the same day, Scarpitti says he is “extremely disappointed” by regional council’s decision.

“York Region Council was given a sober second chance, a chance to step back and think of how we could have approached this differently,” he said. “We should have taken a pause. We should not have passed the bylaw. We should have embraced public consultation.”

Scarpitti adds, “There are thousands of retail workers who do not know this bylaw has been passed (and) they are going to find out in the new year.”

The regulation affects an estimated 60,000 retail workers in the region and union officials are vowing to make the bylaw an issue throughout the 2018 municipal election campaign.