This is austerity? Ontario to spend over $100 million on new LCBO stores
August 7, 2012 – Toronto – The Ontario government’s plan to spend over $100 million on building new LCBO stores over the next two years is bewildering in a time of austerity and does little to satisfy Ontarians demand for more convenience in alcohol retailing. On the heels of being presented with a petition from 112,500 Ontarians asking for beer and wine sales in convenience stores, the Ontario government unveiled a plan for a costly LCBO expansion of 70 new stores over the next two years.
“Teachers and doctors are taking pay cuts and we’re spending $100 million on new LCBO stores? We understand the government wants to increase revenues by increasing alcohol sales, but there are ways to do that at no cost to the government. This plan is unnecessarily expensive and they’re dismissing the millions of Ontarians who have said they want more convenience in the system than a handful of new stores can bring,” noted the organizers of the FreeOurBeer.ca campaign. “Expanding the role private retailers play in beer and wine retailing in Ontario would let the province increase revenues, but without the millions in up-front capital costs the increased LCBO expansion will bring.”
An independent study in 2011 revealed that 67% of Ontarians who shop at the government-run LCBO, or the privately and foreign-owned Beer Store, support convenience stores selling beer and wine. A majority of Ontarians across all regions of the province supported the idea, with Eastern Ontarians showing the highest level of support (71%).
“Working with local retailers in communities across the province also has the added benefit of supporting local businesses and reduces the reliance on cars,” added FreeOurBeer.ca organizers. “Giving people the option to walk to their local convenience store to pick up some wine for dinner not only makes sense socially, it’s good for the environment.”