Sunday shopping changes exclude bus users, says critic
A decision by the City of Fredericton to extend Sunday shopping hours is facing criticism for failing to consider the lack of access to public transportation.
Unlike the cities of Moncton and Saint John, Fredericton Transit only offers bus service from Monday to Saturday.
Ron Howse of Fredericton said allowing businesses to determine their own hours of operation on Sundays will put a strain on workers who rely on buses, and would keep many shoppers out of their stores.
He said people without cars, and seniors who don't drive should be able to take advantage of the extended shopping hours like everyone else.
"What are they doing about transit service on Sunday? You can't just have one rule and not look at the impact, and I think there's a big impact there," said Howse.
"I think it's an imposition on people that may or may not have been evaluated, and if it was evaluated I want to see the report that says 'We don't need a bus service on Sunday as a result of this change to Sunday shopping hours.'
"And no doubt in my mind, they didn't do a damn thing, they buckled under pressure to the Retail Council (of Canada.). The retail council got its way, and that's it," he said.
Under the previous rules, store owners were limited to operate between noon and 5 p.m.
The change follows a request by the Retail Council of Canada in February.
Howse said the lack of Sunday transit has been a problem in Fredericton for years, and even reduced transit service would make a difference to both shoppers and commuters.
However, Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside said the topic of a Sunday bus service hasn't been raised at council.
"It's something, as I say, that hasn't been brought forward until this point when we've had Sunday shopping, so those people, I would presume, have been getting to work," said Woodside.
Woodside said if people found a way to get to work when Sunday shopping was restricted from noon until 5 p.m., they shouldn't have any trouble getting there now that Sunday shopping hours are extended.