PE: Liquor commission considers lifting restriction on statutory holidays

Dave Stewart
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The Guardian

Right now under the Retail Holiday Business Act, the six agency stores across the Island cannot sell beer, wine and spirits on those holidays even though they are open for business.

David Cooper owns one of six agency stores in P.E.I., Coopers Red & White in Eldon, now selling alcoholic beverages.

[CHARLOTTETOWN, PE] — The P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission is going to take a look at whether its agency stores should be allowed to sell alcohol on statutory holidays.

Right now under the Retail Holiday Business Act, the six agency stores across the Island cannot sell beer, wine and spirits on those holidays even though they are open for business.

Regardless of what the liquor commission decides, it will be government that ultimately makes the call since it would require a legislative change.

Glenda Cooper, co-owner of Coopers Red & White in Eldon, said they were inundated with calls from residents and tourists about whether they'd be selling alcoholic beverages on Labour Day.

"We must have had 75 calls, at least,'' Cooper said. "We had dozens and dozens and dozens of calls. It took a lot of time answering those calls. 'Are you open, are you selling alcohol?'''

Cooper said if agency stores are permitted to sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays, they should be able to do so on any day in which they are open for business.

Jamie MacLeod, director of corporate services for the P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission, says the six agency stores were notified before Labour Day that provincial legislation prevented them from selling product on statutory holidays.

Those days include Boxing Day, Christmas Day, Good Friday, Islander Day, Labour Day, New Year's Day, Remembrance Day and Thanksgiving Day.

"They can open but they just can't sell liquor because of that limitation,'' MacLeod said.

To change that, government would have to amend the Retail Business Holiday Act and to the Liquor Control Act. In order for that to happen, the legislature has to be sitting and that isn't likely to happen until November.

"I can tell you the liquor commission is looking at the act but if our liquor board is interested in making a request of government to further consider the matter we'll probably have to consult with the department that's responsible for that act,'' MacLeod said.

The six agency stores are located in Eldon, Cavendish, Kinkora, East Royalty, Murray Harbour and Morell.

MacLeod said he also doesn't want to prejudge what recommendation the liquor board will make to government.

"I can't make any guarantee. I've told (the agency stores) the best I can guarantee you folks is that the liquor board will take a look at it and we'll see where we go from there.''

Christmas Day is still considered a restricted holiday so even if the commission recommends government amend the act to allow stores to sell booze and government makes the change Islanders likely won't be able to buy it then.

"It makes sense for us to be selling it,'' Cooper said. "The staff are here. If (the commission) wants to close their stores . . . leave the liquor stores closed and we can sell it.''

Organizations: P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission, Liquor commission

Geographic location: Eldon, Iceland, Kinkora Murray Harbour

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