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Eat & Drink

Province to allow wider sales of booze at grocery stores

Posted by Derek Flack / April 1, 2014

LCBO grocery storesSome good news might be brewing as regards wider availability of booze in Ontario. Reports suggest that they're about to roll out LCBO kiosks in grocery stores on a wide scale across the province. This is a far cry being able to pick up a six pack at 1am at your local convenience store, but it would mark progress over the current system, which of course ties us to bricks and mortar LCBO locations (and their typically conservative opening hours).

The province originally launched the kiosk program at 10 (non-urban) grocery stores as a pilot about a year ago. Today's announcement would see expansion of the program, which is somewhat encouraging from a convenience standpoint. It's a sad state of affairs when you feel lucky that there's a Kittling Ridge outlet in the grocery store nearest you. Plenty of people would like to buy their wine and their food together (what a wild concept), and these kiosks would help to accommodate that.

The question is really whether this is enough. You know the roll out will be modest to begin with (update: seven grocery stores will initially get express kiosks), the selection won't be great, and it's dubious what kind of an extension consumers will get on opening hours via grocery stores. What do you think? Will these kiosks serve your needs/wants or should the pressure to expand booze sales beyond the LCBO still be applied heavily?

Photo by Samatha Tan in the blogTO Flickr pool



Materloo / April 1, 2014 at 12:41 pm
A small step in the right direction... but...
Ontario has become really good at making our lives so incredibly complex. There are so many rules and barriers established by subsequent governments that make buying alcohol, renewing our health cards, paying transit fare, etc, so complex. The government is starting to trip up in it's own bureaucratic processes as it's getting confused at how to navigate the rules that it itself established. Why can't we just keep it simple? Let any outlet apply for a license to sell take-away wine and beer. Keep the LCBO for liquors and specialty stuff.
ROB FORD ON CRACK / April 1, 2014 at 12:48 pm
Trying a little harder,we appreciate that.
Alfred Ayache / April 1, 2014 at 12:49 pm
April Fool's!
clancy replying to a comment from Materloo / April 1, 2014 at 12:50 pm
I mostly agree with what you're saying, but is it really "complex" to go buy alcohol or pay for transit? it's pretty easy if you ask me, it's not handled properly at all, but the process is pretty simple and straightforward.
Elvis / April 1, 2014 at 12:52 pm
An attempt to buy votes? Way to go Kathleen!

It doesn't matter where alcohol is sold we still pay more than 50% in taxes.
sean / April 1, 2014 at 12:59 pm
the LCBO kiosks would have the same stupid hours as any other LCBO store. until there is a provinical legislation change, good luck for those who work Sundays trying to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner after 6pm.
Steve replying to a comment from sean / April 1, 2014 at 01:34 pm
Then pick one up on Saturday. Why can't you plan your alcohol consumption like a big-boy-pants wearing person who, presumably, is of legal drinking age, and thus an adult?

Or are we all raging alcoholics that we require immediate access to booze at all times?

Wait, we do have access to booze until the wee morning hours at things called licensed establishments.

Happy to listen to arguments about this, but "waaaaaaaaaaah, I can't buy alcohol on Sundays after work" is really low on the priority scale.
Mike / April 1, 2014 at 01:40 pm
I don't really care about when I can booze. Just lower the god-damn taxes on them. Wine/beer can cost nearly twice as much in Ontario compared to our provincial friends and US neighbours.
Brent / April 1, 2014 at 01:41 pm
@Materloo - it is so very easy to renew your health card in Ontario.
Neil replying to a comment from Steve / April 1, 2014 at 01:49 pm
@Steve ... The point of the article is that WE ARE ADULTS and shouldn't have to wait to buy booze at unreasonable hours (for no apparent reason). Unless you really liked living in the age where Banks don't open on weekends, cant buy booze on Sunday till mid-afternoon, and the internet is still on dial-up.

It's not a matter of your personal priority scale but the fact that our province should allow us to purchase alcohol when we want to. We have to over 19 anyways (legal adults) so why should we be treated like children in a candy store
outoufprovince replying to a comment from Mike / April 1, 2014 at 01:54 pm
Oh for the love of all that is holy! Stop perpetuating the myth that in other provinces alcohol is cheaper. It. Is. Not.
cam replying to a comment from Steve / April 1, 2014 at 01:57 pm
While you may enjoy living in a nanny state, the rest of us (in addition to most of the free world) would like the option of being able to buy a 6-pack at the corner store or buying a bottle of wine after LCBO hours. This old-word attitude that alcohol still needs to be heavily regulated is an anomaly and is indicative of how this current government is so out of touch with reality. What do we have photo ID's for?? It's little wonder then, that this Wynne gov. is literally falling apart before our eyes right now.
kasual / April 1, 2014 at 01:58 pm
You bastards! The Miller April fools joke I could take because I didn't care, but this hits too close to home!
sean replying to a comment from Neil / April 1, 2014 at 01:59 pm
Steve obviously knows what's good for us all,just like Kathleen Wynne. He must be one of those cronies that got paid off for cancelling a gas plant and doesn't mind paying $22 for a pitcher of beer should the desire strike him for a drink on a sunday night.
sweet2th replying to a comment from clancy / April 1, 2014 at 01:59 pm
For me, buying wine is complex because while I live in an urban area and two grocery stores are in walking distance, the closest LCBO is a bus or car ride away. (I don't have a car.) Transit is complex for my mother, who is a senior, because TTC only issues tickets for seniors' discount, yet the closest subway entrance to her is a turnstile that only accepts cash, tokens or metropass(no tickets.) She doesn't use the TTC enough to warrant a metropass and it's a lengthy walk for her to go to the main entrance where she can use a ticket.
E. Toby Coke replying to a comment from Steve / April 1, 2014 at 02:12 pm
"Why can't you plan your alcohol consumption like a big-boy-pants wearing person who, presumably, is of legal drinking age, and thus an adult?"

Your logic works against you, Steve.

If we are old enough to wear big-boy pants, should we not be allowed to buy beer and wine where it's convenient for us? Or do we need bureaucrats to manage our day-to-day affairs?

JamiesCryin / April 1, 2014 at 02:24 pm
Jackson and Triggs and other bad tasting non drinkable wines have been sold in Grocery Store kiosks for decades. Why open it up to international wines and craft beers now all of a sudden.

Ohh I see a quick look over here smoke screen to avoid the gas plant fiasco. We're not gonna forget Wynne. I'd rather have the wasted money back in the province then be able to beer at the grocery store which isn't really much more convenient than a trip to the LCBO itself.

We need beer where its convenient in convenience stores. If kiosk are to be run by the LCBO why can I only get beer? I still need a trip to an LCBO store to get Vodka.
former Montrealer / April 1, 2014 at 02:29 pm
When I lived in Montreal, grocery/convenience stores carried the worst wine and 6 different kinds of beer. That is better? Right now I can go to a beer store or LCBO no more than a 15 minute drive away and get 100's of beers and some of the best wines. This is a bad idea. We are going to lose on quality and variety.
Opie / April 1, 2014 at 02:45 pm
I'm looking for real reform - like introducing real competition into the liquor market. This will be big Government linking up with big business. It has the potential to hurt small retailers that can't buddy up to the power brokers at Queen's Park. This is not a plus it is a minus. I'm going to have to hold my nose and vote Conservative for any hope of reform.
gonzo / April 1, 2014 at 02:55 pm
How much taxpayer money will go into building these kiosks and filling them with new staff.

This isn't the 20's, get rid of the stupid LCBO.

Steve replying to a comment from sean / April 1, 2014 at 03:09 pm
If the reason you want alcohol retail to have expanded hours/service is simply because you cannot afford to drink in a bar, I'd really have to question your life choices and why your close personal friends and family are enabling you.

Then I'd guess your problem drinking is why there's no one around to tell you how idiotic that sounds.

(and yeah, I work for the Liberals. Or something?)
Steve replying to a comment from sean / April 1, 2014 at 03:11 pm
All I'm asking is for reasons. Good ones. Not "I'm an adult and I'm throwing a fit because alcohol isn't available everywhere and governments and taxes".

I can't buy a duvet at 8AM on a Monday. I can't buy alcohol at 6PM on a Sunday.

But, golly guys, I can buy a duvet at 4PM on Monday and I can buy alcohol at noon on Sundays.


Hamish Beauregard / April 1, 2014 at 03:34 pm
Limited step in the right direction fueled not by common sense but desperate sleight of hand and vote buying. The conservatives are talking about privatization (as, historially, the opposition always does near a potential election)and the gas plant fiasco is reaching a crescendo. Nonetheless, any improvement is a good thing. Privatize or de-regulate, you can do both without losing tax revenues or increasing the dangerous scourge of underage drinking. The problem that confronts any government seeking more than superficial consumer facing LCBO reform is placating the LCBO division of OPSEU. There are more than 250 LCBO employees on the sunshine list and the average wages for LCBO employees is amongst the highest I am aware of anywhere for retail employees (which, by the way is not necessarily a bad thing - all for paying people a living wage). Any debate about privatizing or reforming the LCBO inevitablly (and properly) has to enagage this interest group, often it seems at the expense of any meaningful debate about the interests of the rest of the tax paying public. And for god's sake Toronto, act like a big boy city and put some fing automatic ticketing machines in the TTC so we all don't have to face the horrible bottleneck of the ticket booth collector.
Aaron / April 1, 2014 at 03:46 pm
Does this mean we can buy food at the LCBO too?
Mr. Bootlegger Toronto / April 1, 2014 at 04:03 pm
For a small fee, any LCBO booze will be delivered to your door, by me. Think grocerygateway, you boozers!
sean replying to a comment from Steve / April 1, 2014 at 04:05 pm
'Idiotic' is paying a hefty premium to drink when and where Momma premiere tells you. Preferably in the bar that Steve owns.

10 stores only?? / April 1, 2014 at 05:06 pm
WOW they are expanding to 10 grocery stores across the province?

Even if they expanded to just 10 in the GTA it would hardly be noticeable BUT 10 across the whole province? This will not be noticable and no more convenient for anyone.

ALSO AND ANOTHER THING if the expansion is so small wouldn't the LCBO know which areas are underserved the most and then draw applications from those areas only, instead of having every store in Ontario apply to be one of the chosen few.
no can do / April 1, 2014 at 05:29 pm
a drop in the bucket. Meant to stop us from demanding an end to the LCBO.
matt / April 1, 2014 at 05:46 pm
Why do people keep bashing the LCBO when the real enemy is the beer store. At least the LCBO is a revenue source for the province. The beer store is run by beer companies and should have been shut down years ago. Shut them down and we'll get booze in conveneince stores much quicker. They're the group lobbying to keep everything as it is.
sean replying to a comment from matt / April 1, 2014 at 06:02 pm
agreed. shutter the beer store. add more lcbo locations and allow hours 11am-11pm 7 days a week like in British Columbia...who has become a model of responsible alcohol consumption...allowing a bottle of wine at the beach now. Good Heavens!

Scott / April 1, 2014 at 06:30 pm
Early in 2013 I had to go to northern Quebec for a funeral. We arrived at 11 PM and was able to stop at a Shell station and grabbed a 12 of Bud Light for $15. But on the other end i was in Calgary a week before Christmas for work and went to a local spirits store and grabbed a 15 of Coors Light cans and it cost me $31. So needless to say it could go either way. Do I think the Ontario government is a dictatorship ? HELL YA ! If it was privatized the Ontario liberals would impose a fee to the retailer and they still want their " hands in your pockets". And if it is privatized you think Costco is busy now.
Alex replying to a comment from Scott / April 1, 2014 at 07:18 pm
You'd feel slightly less ripped off if you didn't drink such sh*tty beer.
It's all about me replying to a comment from sean / April 1, 2014 at 07:26 pm
The sense of entitlement is insane with you people.

A quick search of LCBO locations in Toronto show tons of stores that are open until 10pm 6 days a week!!! You're right Sunday they close at 6, the horror!! Why would they actually think staff might not want to work until 10 on Sunday too? You can't organize your day to find alcohol during the 78 hours some stores are open to serve you? How the fuck did you survive when grocery stores were closed on Sundays?
Friar Canuck / April 1, 2014 at 07:26 pm
Not good enough. These will be run just like the LCBO kiosks that are already in place in grocery stores in small communities across Ontario.

Grocery store is open, but the LCBO is open or closed depending on their own hours.
lala replying to a comment from Steve / April 1, 2014 at 07:55 pm
Are you for real? It's called free enterprise. The guv has no business being in the liquor business.
sean replying to a comment from It's all about me / April 1, 2014 at 08:34 pm
Steve by any other name is still Steve. Have fun at the next Liberal convention when you're voting for your next leader, Steve.
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Riley / April 1, 2014 at 10:15 pm
Gettin Ripped right now. Picked up a few beer talls at the LCBO and a small mickey of Vodka for some sipping... No problem gettin ripped over here....
Quebec Resident replying to a comment from outoufprovince / April 2, 2014 at 08:53 am
It is cheaper in other Provinces. Next time you are in Quebec, compare the beer prices.
It's all about me replying to a comment from sean / April 2, 2014 at 12:41 pm
Sorry Sean, I'm not Steve. Just someone else who disagrees with your perspective of we need retail open all the time because you don't organize your time well.

Seriously how can stores being open until 10pm not be enough?
Vanessa / April 2, 2014 at 04:33 pm
I for one am glad they are keeping it on a smaller scale like this. Who needs to be like Quebec or worse, the US, with booze available almost anywhere.
Dan / April 3, 2014 at 08:56 am
I know in Blue Mountain there is a Macs Convenience Store that sells a decent selection of liquor, wine and beer till midnight when they lock the fridge and pull a cover over the shelves. Really confused me since I walked in there a day after first reading about people pushing for it in stores. Then I was very happy when I realized it was 11pm and I hadn't made it to the beer store that day.
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