Port Alberni city council is unanimously opposed to a private liquor store relocating to the Alberni Highway near Athol Road in Cherry Creek. However, the final say rests with Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District rural directors.
During Monday’s council meeting, Coun. Cindy Solda introduced a motion to disapprove the application to rezone 2970 Alberni Highway from C4 highway commercial to C2 general commercial, which would allow a liquor store. A blueberry stand is currently operating at that location.
“At the last ACRD meeting… I voiced my own personal opinion because I didn’t agree with the move,” Solda told city council. “Unfortunately [McLeman] and I don’t get to vote on this at the regional district but we can certainly voice our opposition.”
Solda is also the ACRD chair, but as a representative for the city, she along with Coun. Jack McLeman who is an ACRD director, cannot vote on zoning issues outside the city limits.
Solda encouraged people with concerns regarding this rezoning to bring them to the ACRD.
City council received three letters opposing the liquor licence move. One from the Peter G. Mugleston, president of G.D.P. Investments, which operates the Best Western Barclay Hotel. In it, he wrote that his company is not anti-business nor anti-competition but he said there is no need for this liquor store as the licence hasn’t been in use for a while. The licence is currently held at the former Somass Hotel.
“The market has spoken and that is one of [the] reasons why this licence is dormant and has been for several years,” Mugleston wrote.
“Port Alberni is a city that is in the top percentile of more LRS’s [Licensed Retail Stores] per capita compared to other cities in the province,” Mugleston added.
Jonathan Cross, owner of the The Hospitality Inn concurred with Mugleston, saying an “over supply of retail liquor will result in discounting and destructive competition as existing stores fight to maintain market share.” He added that Port Alberni would have the most liquor stores per capita in B.C. with one store for every 1,700 people, if this liquor store opens.
The ACRD is expected to hold a public hearing on the rezoning and will make a decision either at the end of August or sometime in September.