Alberni city councillor questions proposed liquor licence move

Port Alberni already has enough liquor stores on Johnston Road, says Cindy Solda, who opposes moving a licence from the old Somass Hotel.

A proposed move of a liquor store licence from the former Somass Hotel to a location along the Alberni Highway in Cherry Creek is facing resistance from at least one Port Alberni city councillor.

ABC liquor store licence owner Andrew Hanson has asked the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District board, in a letter, to rezone the property at 2970 Alberni Highway, near Athol Road, from C4 highway commercial to C2 general commercial, to allow a liquor store. A blueberry stand is currently stationed outside the vacant building on the property, which also has a house and nine-stall parking lot.

However, Coun. Cindy Solda said there are enough liquor stores in the community and there are enough on Johnston Road, which carries most of the tourist traffic in and out of the community.

“How many liquor stores do we need?” Solda asked. “It’s a smart move on their part. That particular space will catch people coming into the community first.”

The location was also an issue for Electoral Area ‘B’ director Mike Kokura.

“Did anybody give consideration to the fact that is going to be the first liquor store [tourists] are going to see when they head in?” Kokura said during last Wednesday’s ACRD meeting. “It’s going to be on the left hand side on a very busy road.”

The property is located in Cherry Creek so the City of Port Alberni does not have a final say in the matter. However, the ACRD is referring the matter to the city for input.

Calls to Hanson for comment were not returned. Hanson, who refers to himself as an agent in the ACRD application, is also in the process of transferring ownership of the liquor licence. He indicated in his letter that the applicants, Jim and Darlene Lane have operated the only private liquor store in Ucluelet for the last seven years and they have 20 years of experience working in the liquor business.

He also acknowledged that the location is one of the first things people will see when entering the Alberni Valley and that there are plans to have an attractive building.

A decision is expected in late August or early September after input from various stakeholders, such as the city, is received and a public hearing is held.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com