MONTREAL – The future of the Publisac is in the hands of the City of Montreal as hearings on the delivered flyers began Friday.

The city is debating whether or not the 3.5 million mail flyers that are delivered every week to Montreal doorsteps should be distributed on an opt-in basis.

"It's 100,000 tonnes of material every year in Quebec," said Montreal resident Charles Montpetit, who has been petitioning against it for environmental reasons.

Over a period of 38 days, Montpetit said he found thousands of infractions in the way Publisacs were being delivered in his neighbourhood, and gathered 15,000 signatures in support of having the flyers delivered only to people that want them. 

It's time for paper flyers to move online, he said.

"If the Yellow Pages could do that and thrive doing it, then Publisac could do the exact same thing," he said. 

Distributers of the Publisac, however, say the flyers are still welcome in Quebec mailboxes.

"Eighty-five to 90 per cent of the people that receive the Publisacs read it," said Francois Olivier, TC Transcontinental. "We're so happy the city did their own survey and came up with the same results."

The City of Montreal recognizes that many businesses like local newspapers still depend on door-to-door delivery and could be affected by an opt-in bylaw.

"It has an environmental cost, but we know that it has also a social cost, so we have to take all the points of view in mind before we make a decision on how we are going to answer to this," said Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, a member of the city's executive committee. 

Hearings on flyer distribution will continue in early November, with recommendations expected by Dec. 5.