Editorial: Car washes and the demon liquor

Council Chambers were packed with the righteously indignant on two consecutive evenings last week. At issue was an appeal to thwart the plans of long-time businessmen Guy Meunier to convert his car wash into a small liquor store and his plans to serve beer along with his burgers in his restaurant.

Meunier followed procedure and the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) authorized a development permit, a situation that raised the ire of a daycare, neighbouring parents and members of the Morinville Christian Fellowship School.

Neighbourhood parents and the daycare expressed concerns about increased traffic from a liquor store and the potential of a child being hit by an impaired driver, a NIMBY but certainly noble and valid point of attack.

But for Pastor Brunelle, principal of the Christian school, and nearly 50 of his fellowship who came out over two nights to support the appeal, the bulk of the objection is an aversion to the Demon Liquor, at least its draw on the youth of this community. By his own admission, Brunelle intimated he’d fallen prey to the lure of the liquor a time or two in his own youth, errors he quickly rectified to the point of being able to speak against the ills of alcohol for the rest of us.

That on its own is worthy of praise, but at the heart of the matter, Brunelle and his churchmen (and women) are afraid that the proximity of a liquor store so close to the church’s youth group headquarters (located in the former Anglican church across the road from the Shell) will be too great a temptation for the 90 to 100 Morinville teens the church is trying to help overcome the troubles of life, something the church claims to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars doing in Morinville.

The hypocrisy of the group’s concern for the community is appalling and unbecoming of one who professes to follow the carpenter’s son. Guy Meunier has offered to work with the church to educate young people on the dangers of alcohol and alcoholism, a pretty remarkable and civic-minded offer. But Pastor Brunelle, Pastor Fraser and their followers prefer to sees the dregs of humanity wherever partakers of the barley gather and wants to push them away from their insular world and world view.

Senior Pastor Greg Fraser painted several scenarios of the dangers of a liquor store so close to the school and youth centre. The best had as its central theme an “alcohol emboldened 19-year-old” accosting a group of 12-year-old girls heading to the Shell for a slushie, so the teen could “pick up something else other than a bottle of vodka.”

What is most disturbing in the appeal is that apparently the pastor and his church have no problem with other demon liquor establishments within a few blocks of the school and youth group. Where was the pastors’ indignation when the former Fields store was given the green light to open a liquor store next to a music school? Where was their indignation when the Community Cultural Centre (which will have two bars) was built on the grounds of the Morinville Community High School? Is it not possible that a wedding or rock concert might occur on the same evening as a basketball game or school concert?
Pastor Brunelle asked both council and the appeal board if building a liquor establishment next to one of the town’s four Catholic schools would have been as easily permitted as it was next to his, implying a persecution against his church and school to such a level one would expect to find stigmata somewhere on his person.

There is an interesting double standard at play in this community. South Glenns residents are criticized for building close to an industrial park. Non-religious parents are chastised for not knowing that all the public schools in Morinville were religiously infused. But a religious school can open up in a commercial strip mall and then complain when a businessman tries to engage in a legal business venture that doesn’t fit well with their theological views or sense of moral standards.

And because a businessman dared to attempt to create employment and profit, some members of Brunelle’s delegation, instead of asking “What would Jesus do?” now boycott the Shell.

Jesus Christ overturned the money changers tables in the temple, but Mr. Meunier isn’t a money changer and Pastor Brunelle is most certainly not Jesus.

If Morinville can support five liquor stores and several bars, perhaps Pastor Brunelle and his flock can do as Christ did and minister among the people on the dangers of alcoholism instead of only popping up their heads when the situations pops up in their own backyard.

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  1. I question whether our Town needs another liquor store. However, having said that, it is Guy’s money to spend and if he feels he can make it a success than that is his choice. It seems to me that those opposed to this idea for “moral” reasons would be better served working with Guy than going so vehemently against him.

  2. Surely we have enough liquor establishments to saturate the towns people, in my opinion we don’t need more. Now I am a mother with 3 children, and I can’t even buy my children a brand new pair of rain-boots or a coat in this town, or a birthday gift for a friend; sure I can pick up a cheap pair of mitts or some crayons at the dollar store, but I have to leave town to buy essential items for my self and children. Is the town council blind to see that we need more retail outlets for clothing, and items? Stores like Fields and SAANs were great when I needed to pick up the little things but even those don’t exists. We need store were mothers like me, who have 3 children can go to for easy access of items, with out the hassles of making a large trip into the city.

  3. Consider the fact he is trying to capitalize on all the emboldened youth that walk by his store on their ritualistic trips every Friday to one of our fine watering hole establishments such as “The Zoo” and “Rednex.” Not only is this a grab at the current competition in town for liquor sales, its an attempt to control a section of the towns choice in where to buy alcohol. Right next to two huge apartment complexes that house mostly low to middle income families? Yeah, doesnt seem like a religious issue at all, seems more like he only cares about money and making it off the backs of the proletariat, hard-working families in town.

    Another liqour store… Gimme a freakin break.

  4. I feel that ANOTHER liquor store should not be put up in Morinville, we already have what 8 liquor related things in Morinville that is alot for such a small town! and another thing is why would they want to put it right up near a day care and a School, what the Hell is on this guys mind, this is not safe at all for the children that are at the school and day care. Yes the owner of the gas station does want to get the car wash part out, so be it take it out and make it into something more useful then ANOTHER Liquor store because really we do NOT need another liquor store in Morinville!!!
    At this point this guy does not care about the children or anything he only cares about the money soo what if he always tells people where the liquor store down the street is, he is really only thinking for himself not for the things around him.
    If he really wants to get the car wash part out of there so do it but turn it into what a clothing store or something useful and cheaper prices then walmart, and then people would want to go and buy things from the store instead of walmart how easy is that, yes Walmart is a big store but Morinville is a small town you could make some really good money if you where to put a store of some sort in expecially that close to a DAY CARE & SCHOOL!! like maybe even more candy or something that the children would enjoy, think about the children in Morinville what do they have besides a dollar store and a bunch of parks, what kind of stores do they have NOTHING..

  5. JoeAlAnon and C.D.M,

    Guy is a businees man. He is looking at what he needs/wants to do to run a successful business. Of course he is thinking about himself! Who wants to run an unsuccesful business? At least he is willing to work with the Christian Fellowship Church to educate people on the dangers of alcohol abuse.

    As for needing a clothing store or the likes of a SAAN or Fields, I am in 100% agreement. We do need one here. With Fields gone, and the Extra Foods turning into a No Frills, we are seriously lacking. Guy opening his liquor store has nothing to do with that. I also believe that Guy is more targeting the drive through traffic (those who fill-up at his gas bar on their way to another destination), rather then the people living in Morinville Place or the youth who are wandering by. And I certainly do not think he is targeting the children that attend the Christian Fellowship School or Kanga & Roos Daycare (who both choose to operate in a strip mall).

    And C.D.M, if you think it’s so easy to open your own business, AND price your wares at LOWER then Walmart costs, then why don’t you do it yourself?

  6. Melissa
    I’m not saying its easy im saying it would be way better then putting a liquor store in that is that close to a day care and Christian school. And he is not targeting the children at the day care and Christian school but the main fact is that its that close, and he could think of anything else to put there and the reason why he is wanting to put a liquor store where he wants to put it is because he is getting tired of re-locating people just down the road to the liquor store and bar. and he is tired of all the Vandalism that goes on. but do you really think putting a liquor store there would help with the vandalism?? not really.

  7. I understand there are two sides to this issue, but our citizen’s accusations are preposterous. I am disappointed by his/her complete misunderstanding of and lack of respect for my faith, but even those are not excuses for his/her ignorance.

    I ask this: is there anywhere where alcohol should not be sold? Obviously, our concerned citizen thinks not. He/she believes that it is perfectly fine to install liquor stores wherever one desires. He/she would have no credence to ever object to any liquor store being built—I say this because I cannot think of a less appropriate place for liquor to be sold. I disagree with our citizen, there are places liquor should not be sold—it is a matter of common sense.

    I, and likely most opposed to the store, do not believe alcohol is inherently evil. I often partake nightly for the pleasure and the health benefits. But let’s not deceive ourselves, there are many underage drinkers in Morinville and they are in trouble. Anyone who wants to help them is concerned about more than business ventures. Guy’s offer to help educate youth is clearly meaningless lip-service. Even if he did follow through with it it would be a gutless effort since it came not from true concern—true concern wouldn’t build this store.

    Imagine this photo: the signs “liquor store,” “daycare,” and a “Christian school” next to each other. What a hilarious image to add to an amusing forwarded email of redneck laughing-stocks. It’s not hard to imagine. I would be funny. But I would wish Morinville to not be a laughing-stock. I have more hope for our community than that. Keep liquor away from areas populated by youth and children. It’s simply vile.

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