Ont. convenience stores petition for permission to sell beer, wine
Published Wednesday, July 25, 2012 10:14AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 25, 2012 6:29PM EDT
A group representing convenience store retailers in Ontario has presented the provincial government with a petition signed by more than 100,000 residents, calling on the government to give their stores the right to sell beer and wine.
The Ontario Convenience Store Association presented the petition to the Ontario legislature Wednesday morning, arguing that it’s high time that the province update its current legislation. They note that the alcohol retailing system in Ontario hasn't been updated in 85 years.
Dave Bryans, CEO of the OCSA says Ontarians just want the right to pick up beer and wine where they want to.
“The people who signed this petition aren’t special interest groups," he told reporters at Queen's Park Wednesday. "They are responsible adults who just want the simple convenience of leaving the car at home and walking to their neighbourhood convenience store to get wine for dinner or drinks for the barbecue with their friends. It’s pretty simple thinking.”
Bryans noted that convenience stores are already selling alcohol in more than 200 communities that don't have stand-alone LCBO outlets. He says it’s time to add to that existing system so that consumers can have more options.
Former Liberal premier David Peterson promised to allow corner stores to sell beer and wine in the 1980s, but it never happened.
It remains to be seen whether this government is interested in changing a system that they say works just fine.
CTV Toronto’s political specialist Paul Bliss says every year since 2003, he’s asked Premier Dalton McGuinty if he’s planning to put beer and wine in corner stores, and every time, he has said no. The current laws and controls already serve the province well, McGuinty has said.
The OCSA sasy its petition was started in the hamlet of Vanessa, southwest of Brantford, where 80 local residents complain they have to drive 20 minutes to buy a bottle of wine.
“Customers kept saying it would be nice to be able to buy beer or wine at our store,” Joanne McMurchy, who runs the local general store in Vanessa, said in a statement.
“I decided to draw up a petition and before I knew it, pages and pages kept filling up with names of neighbours, friends, and customers who all wanted this simple convenience. People were stopping at the store just to sign the petition,” she said.
Over four weeks in late 2011, the petition earned 112,500 signatures.
The OCSA says its members are already selling more age-restricted products than any other retailer, and they say they also do a better job of checking for age than any other retailer.
The group says it released an Ipsos Reid study that revealed that two-thirds of Ontarians who shop at the government-run LCBO and The Beer Store want the convenience of alcohol retailing at convenience stores.