The Government of Saskatchewan issued a request for proposals earlier this month for the first of 50 new retail opportunities across the province. Included in the information is a note that the City of Prince Albert has declined a new liquor store for the city, despite being listed by the province as a community that is currently underserved.
The Chamber of Commerce issued a release late last year pointing out the economic opportunities a retail liquor outlet would create in Prince Albert. A new, high-end retail outlet would allow for more consumer choice and lead to more jobs, investment in infrastructure and growth in the local tax base.
The request for proposals will include a formal process to allow for feedback and review of each new private liquor outlet. By declining a new outlet, and the review process, City Council is stifling debate on a worthy local issue. The City of Prince Albert is confusing alcohol and addiction statistics with business growth, capital investment and consumer choice.
The long-awaited Prince Albert and Area community alcohol strategy, was released in April. City Councillor Rick Orr, also a member of the community alcohol strategy committee, was quoted in the Prince Albert Daily Herald saying more retail outlets in the city will not affect the committee’s overall goal of promoting awareness and education about alcohol use and abuse in Prince Albert.
If City Council is going to stop debate on a new, private liquor vendor in Prince Albert, is it also going to give thought to the number of drinking establishments that already exist within the city? It is worthwhile to ask if council has analyzed whether the social costs outweigh the economic benefits of our current liquor outlets? Is council saying that no new liquor permits or licenses will be issued in this city?
The Prince Albert & District Chamber of Commerce continues to support the City of Prince Albert, and local partners, in working to alleviate the problems that stem from chronic alcohol abuse. The Chamber does not feel that a high-end liquor outlet in the city will contribute to the dependence some in our community have on alcohol, but rather, provide a new experience for patrons and contribute to a growing local economy.
The Chamber urges City Council to reconsider their decision and at the very least, allow for a public discussion and proper review process to determine the merits of a new retail liquor store in Prince Albert.
Signed on behalf of the Prince Albert & District Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors,