LCBO names three Island communities: Providence Bay, Wiiky, South Baymouth for convenience store beer and wine sales

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MANITOULIN – The LCBO has recently released a list of 302 communities in Ontario that are welcome to participate in a request for proposal (RFP) process of bringing an LCBO convenience outlet to an existing retail business within their area, including three on Manitoulin Island.

A press release announcing the RFP describes it as being part of the Ford government’s plan to “deliver more choice and convenience for consumers.” Of the 302 communities listed, the LCBO plans to green-light roughly 200 outlets by the coming spring.

Manitoulin Island communities given the go-ahead to apply for an outlet are Providence Bay, South Baymouth and Wiikwemkoong.

“Personally, I don’t mind because a lot of people are inquiring. We’re not licenced here and are planning to get licenced and I will definitely speak with my business partner Vera,” said Insessa Taibert, proprietor of the Huron Sands Motel and Restaurant in Providence Bay.

“I think for the people in Providence Bay, it would be good—or for the visitors and tourists. I just like when people get what they want; if we don’t have something I feel bad.”

The Expositor contacted Carl’s Trading Post in South Baymouth to assess its interest in hosting an LCBO convenience outlet.

“I’ve got mixed views about that. I spent half my life pulling people out of ditches because of alcohol; I’m not a promoter of it,” said Gary Brown, a co-owner of Carl’s Trading Post. He acknowledged that it would boost business but that its location was curious given the close proximity of Ward’s General Store in Tehkummah that already serves as an LCBO convenience outlet. It is 10 kilometres away.

“We work with Ward’s in Tehkummah and I think it’d hurt their business,” said Robert Brown, the other half of the Carl’s ownership. “We’ve lost two gas stations in the area. When there’s too many people selling one product, nobody makes any money. That’s the problem with having a lot of retail outlets.”

Robert Brown added that the seasonal nature of South Baymouth would place a lot of strain on any year-round business such as an LCBO convenience outlet.

“As far as selling alcohol in South Baymouth in the off-season, you can forget it because there’s no customers. That’s my business perspective. When the ferry’s running, you’d probably do quite well,” he said.

Wiikwemkoong Ogimaa Duke Peltier was unable to provide comment to The Expositor by press time Monday but he did acknowledge that he had not heard of the program before being contacted for interviews by this newspaper and CBC Sudbury.

Surprise was a common thread shared between all of the people The Expositor contacted on this topic. Aside from publishing the list, the LCBO appeared to not have contacted any possible host businesses directly to inform them that they were welcome to apply.

Businesses are eligible for the convenience outlet program if they do not primarily identify as a pharmacy or restaurant, if they are at least five kilometres from an existing LCBO or Beer Store outlet, they are at least five kilometres from the intersection named in the list of communities (meaning businesses as far from town as Manitoulin Meat Boss at Dryden’s Corner could be considered in the Providence Bay application, for example), the LCBO outlet will take up less than half of the overall operational area of the business and the space can hold 80 feet of shelving and a four foot square seasonal beverage area as well as a 100-square-foot area separate from the main retail zone to store empty container returns.

The five-kilometre provision is measured as-the-crow-flies, though if a proposed outlet is within the five-kilometre radius, the LCBO said it would consider the length of the shortest driving route, effectively shrinking the minimum distance requirement.

Any businesses wishing to put their name forward must email their application to the LCBO by October 8 at 2 pm and ensure they meet all of the eligibility requirements including a personal history assessment and background check.

When measuring the driving distances from the main intersection listed in the eligible community directory, Providence Bay is 11 km from its nearest LCBO outlet, South Baymouth is 10 kilometres away and Wiikwemkoong is 15 kilometres away.