Various alcoholic beverages. (Photo courtesy Can Stock Photo Inc. / draghicich)

More LCBO ‘agency stores’ to open

Close to 300 LCBO agency stores will be opened in communities across Ontario over the coming year, some of which could be opening as early as this summer.

The Minister of Finance announced the latest piece to a new alcohol retail plan on Thursday, which includes allowing 87 more grocery stores across the province to sell wine, beer, and cider. That brings the total number of grocery store authorizations to 450.

In a statement on Thursday, the government said its next step is to send out a request for proposals to nearly 200 municipalities across the province that will be receiving an LCBO agency store before the end of the year.

Up to 60 stores are expected to open this summer, with up to 150 new locations added by December 2019 and that could lead to further growth in spring 2020, the government said in the statement.

“These new locations will now be called ‘LCBO Convenience Outlets’ to help consumers easily identify local alcohol retailers in their community that offers a similar product assortment as LCBO stores,” the government said in the statement. “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.”

The latest move by the Ford government is being met with praise by the Consumer’s Choice Centre. Northern American Affairs Manager David Clement said this agreement signals the provincial government is going to take steps to increase consumer access and choice.

“This is a positive policy from our perspective,” said Clement. “If anyone’s like me [more access] is definitely appreciated because when you’re going up to the cottage or enjoying the outdoors … it will be appreciated from consumers across the province.”

For a full list of the 200 stores click here.