7-Eleven applies for liquor sales licences

7-Eleven Canada has applied to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) for liquor sales licences for 61 Ontario locations.

“Each application will be reviewed individually so there will be different timelines based on community comments and municipal approvals,” says Raymond Kahnert, senior advisor, communications and corporate affairs division, AGCO. “For these locations, a space must be created for the sale, service and consumption of alcohol with food inside the store only and only when that is once again permitted by emergency orders. Take out of alcohol would not be permitted.”

In December 2020, the government of Ontario amended a number of regulations that affect the liquor industry. These changes came into effect on January 1, 2021. As part of these reforms, there is a section that states: “For greater clarity, where the primary purpose of the licensed premises is not the sale and service of food or liquor for consumption on the premises but the liquor sales licence was issued before December 9, 2020, the licensee may sell liquor for takeout and delivery with food, unless the licensed premises is or is located in a convenience store, grocery store, department store or big box store.”

In addition, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is amending some of its policies to provide additional relief and reduce administrative burden for businesses, says Kahnert.

There are several items that must be submitted to the AGCO before an application can proceed, including: A completed municipal information form that is signed and dated by a municipal clerk, an agency letter of approval from each of local fire, building and health departments stating that the premises meet the current standards or by-laws administered by that agency. This letter must be signed and dated by the appropriate municipal official.

In a statement, 7-Eleven says it is excited by a commitment from the Ontario government to extend beer and wine retailing to convenience stores, saying that this creates an opportunity to showcase Ontario wine and craft beer products. 

The statement continues to say that 7-Eleven Canada’s top priority is to provide customers with safe access to products they want, where and when they want them. 

“To complement our fresh food and hot food programs, we are preparing for in-store service of a small selection of Ontario-made beer and wine products, offered during limited hours, and in designated consumption areas of our stores,” says the 7-Eleven statement. “Should we be successful in obtaining licences, all staff handling alcohol products will be Smart Serve trained. 7-Eleven Canada is a responsible retailer and a trusted partner of the federal and provincial governments, controlling access to age-restricted products for over 25 years. We are committed to meeting the needs of our Ontario customers and we look forward to the opportunity to grow jobs and contribute to the Ontario economy.”

At the time of writing, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario was in the process of reviewing the applications during a public comment period wherein the public is given the chance to submit objections. Residents of the communities could file objections and submit comments up to the end of the day on March 11.

Many types of businesses in Ontario may now hold a liquor sales licence, notes Kahnert.

“Since August 2011, the primary business of a premises in Ontario no longer had to be the sale and service of liquor and food in order to be eligible for a liquor sales licence,” says Kahnert. “Current examples include movie theatres, spas and small-format grocers also serving fresh and hot food. Those that hold a liquor licence are subject to specific rules and regulations to ensure that alcohol is served safely and responsibly; for example, not to serve anyone who is intoxicated or under age.”

Public notices have been posted on the AGCO website www.agco.on.ca and placards are posted at the 7-Eleven locations applying for a licence. 

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