The Westwind Beer and Wine store owner objects to a proposed relocation of a liquor store licence from the former Somass Hotel to the Alberni Highway in Cherry Creek.
Chris Danroth, owner of Westwind Beer and Wine Store’s parent company All Sports Group, said this is the wrong time and the wrong place for the liquor store. He cited traffic concerns as there is no intersection for cars coming in from Cathedral Grove to safely turn into the proposed liquor store location. He also said the area does not have the population to sustain another liquor store, so the new store would be catering primarily to tourists.
The proposed location is not far from the Westwind Beer and Wine Store.
“Just look at that area, there are two churches and it’s on the wrong side of the road,” Danroth said, adding that there are enough liquor stores in Port Alberni, serving a small population.
“It’s like having three Walmarts in Port Alberni. Is there a need for that? It’s saturated already.”
ABC liquor store licence owner Andrew Hanson has asked the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District board 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.
The applicants are Jim and Darlene Lane, who run the private liquor store in Ucluelet. Hanson has also applied to sell his liquor store licence.
Danroth added that the liquor control board does not allow the relocating of a liquor store within one kilometre to an existing one, so the province should not allow this relocation because he believes the new location is less than one kilometre from his store.
According a Ministry of Justice spokesperson, a private liquor store can apply to relocate elsewhere within the same municipality, or up to five kilometres away in a different municipality, as the crow flies (in a straight line as opposed to driving distance between two points).
The spokesperson added that a liquor store is restricted from moving within one kilometre of another private liquor store unless the proposed location is the same as the existing site, the proposed location is not closer to an existing or proposed store than the current one, the travelling distance between and existing store and proposed stores is one kilometre or more because of a natural barrier or the relocation is occurring because of a fire or natural disaster that destroyed the store.
The Alberni Valley News drove between the proposed site’s current parking lot to Westwind Beer and Wine Store’s parking lot. The distance clocked on the odometer was 1.2 kilometres.
Danroth also said he had met with the applicants before as they were interested in purchasing the Westwind, but he wasn’t interested in selling.
“Their overall offer was close enough but I was not in the mood to sell it,” Danroth said.
“It’s a family asset and I want to give it to the kids.”
Danroth has owned the Westwind Beer and Wine Store for almost 20 years.
The ACRD is expected to make a decision in late August or early September after input from various stakeholders, such as the city, is received and a public hearing is held.
Calls to Hanson were not returned by newspaper deadline.
EDITED: The Westwind Beer and Wine Store and Westwind Pub are separate businesses. Chris Danroth used to own the pub as well, but Michelle Cote and Brent Wallin purchased the pub two years ago and are not affiliated with Chris Danroth. This article has been edited to reflect the differences in ownership.