Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Pilot Project to Set Up Liquor Outlets Inside 10 Ontario Grocery Stores

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Pilot Project to Set Up Liquor Outlets Inside 10 Ontario Grocery Stores

Article excerpt

10 grocery stores to get LCBO outlets

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TORONTO - Ontario's Liberal government moved Monday to counter a Progressive Conservative proposal to allow corner stores to sell alcohol by announcing a pilot project to sell liquor and wine in 10 grocery stores.

"The goal here is better consumer access," Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said in an interview.

"Ontarians are, generally speaking, very pleased with the system of (liquor) distribution, they just want more access, and we think this is the right way to go."

Some Ontario shoppers will have a new option for buying alcohol starting late in 2013 when the Liquor Control Board sets up Express stores inside 10 supermarkets in communities yet to be determined. Consumers would still take their alcohol purchases to an LCBO cashier, not to the grocery check-out with their food items.

"This is getting the product into the stores and making it much more consumer accessible, and I think this is the first step in a range of new opportunities," said Duncan.

"I think it's a very important development."

Duncan expects the pilot project will be well received by consumers and will then be expanded to other areas.

The LCBO will also create new VQA boutiques for Ontario wines inside five of its own stores, announced Duncan.

"These new VQA boutique stores within the larger LCBOs is really going to put a highlight on our wine industry," he said.

The Progressive Conservatives have said it's time to overhaul Ontario's antiquated liquor laws and allow more private sector sales, especially in convenience stores.

Duncan said the changes announced Monday were not in response to the Tories' plan, which he warned would mean less revenue for a government already facing a $14.4-billion deficit.

"That will destroy our wine industry because they won't stock in corner stores VQA products and things like that," he said.

"They'll just jam in the highest volume things, which inevitably will hurt not only our wine industry but our craft beer industry. …

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