Editorial: How many liquor stores are too many? And who decides?

With the approval of another liquor store in Morinville, the Town will now have seven once the as-yet-unnamed shop opens.

The hue and cry from some commenters posting on social media is that the application should not have been allowed because Morinville already has too many liquor stores.

Who decides that? The free market and consumers or a group of seven elected officials that may or may not have business experience.

On what is that based? Is it based on our visual aversion to liquor stores everywhere or the absence of a place to buy socks when we do not want to go to COSTCO or Wal-MART for them?

Per capita, seven liquor stores work out to one liquor store per 1500 Morinville residents, as stated in the argument against the application at the public hearing Mar. 2. It’s one store per 2000 people if you factor in likely surrounding shopping draw. We pass many more liquor stores on the way home from work each day.

That is a lot of liquor stores.

Albertans drink a lot of liquor.

Stats from 2018 indicate Albertans spend $736.50 per capita on liquor annually.

Doing the math suggests someone with the capital to invest in a liquor store felt there was still room in Morinville for them to trade their dollars to make more dollars selling spirits.

That is the only way businesses open. People with money, looking to make money, invest their money in a business venture.

“Doesn’t matter,” you say. “We have too many liquor stores and should not allow more. “We need different stuff.”

Well, had the applicant felt they’d make money with another coffee shop, another dollar store, another restaurant that the government could close on a whim, they’d have done so. They didn’t. They applied for a liquor store because clearly, it is where they feel they can turn a profit on their investment.

As indicated in both the Mar. 2 Council meeting and this publication’s Mar. 3 coverage of the same, this application would have been approved routinely within a couple of days if the application were anywhere else in Town.

As indicated in our request for information from the Town’s Planning and Development Department, Morinville currently has no bylaw or policy limiting the number of liquor stores, pizza places, or people selling the myriad of multi-level marketing products out there.

Morinville also currently has no policy indicating the distance any business must be from any other company or institution, except cannabis stores (provincial regulation) and strip clubs (which we have none of).

If we want Morinville to protect existing businesses by limiting how many we can have, we need to speak up for that.

But be careful in what you wish for, as a policy limiting the number of liquor stores could prevent other businesses’ opening.

Such an approach could return this community to its once protectionist old boys’ club reputation of years gone by.

If we want more variety here, we need to support the businesses we have here instead of posting on Facebook that you can get it cheaper in St. Albert.

The reality is this: the most significant competition is down the road, not across the street.

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  1. “If we want more variety here, we need to support the businesses we have.” We will be blessed with seven liquor stores. If people want change, everyone should by their booze elsewhere. Shopping local for booze doesn’t bring variety, it justifies more people looking to open another liquor store.

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