Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker is pleased Ontario is improving choice and convenience for consumers by expanding sales of beverage alcohol to nearly 300 new retail outlets across Ontario, including a number of potential new locations in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.
These stores will provide new economic opportunities for small businesses across the province, while offering local craft brewers and wineries greater reach and visibility and helping create jobs across many communities in Ontario.
“Whether driving to the cottage or running errands, consumers across Ontario will now have more places to pick up beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages,” said Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli. “Our government is committed to delivering greater choice and convenience to individuals and families, and this expansion is just the beginning.”
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is expanding its agency store program to approximately 200 new underserved communities, with up to 60 stores expected to open in August. Up to 150 new locations are expected to open by December 2019, with additional stores opening in spring 2020. These new locations will now be called “LCBO Convenience Outlets” to help consumers easily identify local alcohol retailers in their community that offer a similar product assortment as LCBO stores.
In Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, 14 communities have been identified as possible locations for LCBO Convenience Outlets. They include: Big Bay, Ferndale, Flesherton, Holland Centre, Holstein, Kemble, Kilsyth, Kimberley, Maxwell, Oliphant, Pike Bay, Priceville, Walter’s Falls and Williamsford.
Walker said he is also pleased to see local support from the founder of MacLean’s Ales in Hanover, Charles MacLean, who welcomes changes for craft brewers to have more stores to sell their great locally made products in.
Ontario is also allowing 87 more grocery stores across the province to sell wine, beer and cider, bringing the total number of grocery store authorizations to 450. New grocers will be able to start selling wine, beer and cider starting in September.
The LCBO will release a Request for Proposal for local retailers in the 200 newly identified communities. All business applicants that meet the requirements for an authorization will be entered into a lottery for each community and those selected will be eligible for Convenience Outlet authorizations.
Grocers will be selected through a lottery process. Successful grocers will then apply to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for an authorization and enter into a wholesale supply agreement with the LCBO.
“By opening up more alcohol retail outlets across the province, we are not only making life easier for people, we are enabling growth and job creation in the province’s booming beer and wine industry,” said Minister Fedeli.
Ontario’s Government for the People respects adult consumers by trusting them to make responsible choices that work for them. Enabling nearly 300 additional stores to sell alcohol is a first step in delivering choice, convenience and fairness, while discussions with industry are underway to expand alcohol sales into corner stores, big-box stores and even more grocery stores.
Ontario has fewer stores that can sell alcohol than any other province when compared against population size. There are over 8,000 retail stores in Quebec selling alcohol, but less than 3,000 in Ontario.
To date, the government has increased choice and convenience and saved consumers money by:
- Letting sports fans drink alcohol at tailgating parties at eligible sporting events.
- Enabling municipalities to make rules about alcohol consumption in public spaces like parks.
- Extending hours of alcohol service at licensed establishments, allowing them to start serving alcohol at 9 a.m.
- Letting the Beer Store, LCBO and other authorized retailers, such as grocery stores and agency stores, sell alcohol from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week.
- Changing advertising rules to allow for “happy hour” in Ontario.
- Providing flexibility for wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries to promote their products at manufacturing sites by removing the prescribed serving sizes for “by the glass” licences.
- Pausing beer and wine tax hikes initiated by the previous government.
- Lowering the price floor to allow brewers to sell beer for $1 (Buck-a-beer).
“I’m happy to see our government providing these opportunities to more businesses throughout Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound,” said MPP Bill Walker. “Our Open for Business, Open for Jobs approach is about promoting competition and establishing fairness for everyone, from small craft brewers, cider and wine producers to the large beer producers.”