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Eat & Drink

Toronto just made liquor licences even harder to acquire

Posted by Derek Flack / April 9, 2014

Liquor Licence TorontoThose looking to open new bars and restaurants in Toronto are going to face new hurdles after the City changed its process for the acquisition of a liquor licence in response to relaxed enforcement efforts on the part of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). In the past, the AGCO policed special conditions attached to many city liquor licences like the requirement to sell food or regulate noise, but in mid March it announced that it would now restrict its focus to core issues like service to minors and overcrowding.

Given that City of Toronto by-law penalties pale in comparison to the power of an AGCO inspector to shut a bar or restaurant down, council has decided that its only recourse is to be more stringent in awarding licences in the first place. Along with requiring new applicants to pass the CAMH Safe Bars program, those seeking a liquor licence will require a letter of endorsement from the local MPP. Failure to meet these conditions will result in the application being sent to a secondary hearing.

This new process might help the city in limiting new bars from opening in a neighbourhood like Parkdale, where a moratorium on such establishments has been sent to the OMB. But for a city that's already known for its heaps of red tape, one wonders if a more labour-intensive liquor licence application process might not put the hurt on the vibrant food and entertainment industry across the city, and especially in neighbourhoods with restaurant and bar scenes that are just taking shape.

What do you think? Has the ACGO forced Toronto to make it harder to get a liquor licence?

Photo by Scott Snider



Don't Matter None... / April 9, 2014 at 12:36 pm
user-pic staff buys my booze for me, all on the taxpayers' time.

R.B. Ford.
Jordan / April 9, 2014 at 12:38 pm
This seems like garbage - could they have made it more political? A licence should be granted based off a distinct set of rules, not the whilly-nilly views of the local politician.

Stanley / April 9, 2014 at 12:49 pm
AGCO officers are the Parking Enforcement Police of bars and restaurants. They're just out to create more red tape for business owners and put more money in the bank for the Ontario Government under the guise of social responsibility.
Richard S / April 9, 2014 at 12:51 pm
The CAMH Safer Bars program costs almost $1000.

can you say: cash grab? nepotism?

do the math. let's say that 100 new bars/restaurants open a year. that's almost $100 000 in indirect funding to CAMH a year
chester / April 9, 2014 at 12:59 pm
Another way the City of Toronto hurts small businesses. Keep up the good work jackasses.
The Shakes / April 9, 2014 at 01:18 pm
Note to City Councillors, this is the stupid kind of motion that should get thrown into the black hole of "being studied" or "assessed", not the shit we actually need like fixing the TTC.
lister / April 9, 2014 at 01:35 pm
A letter of endorsement from a local MPP?! Really?!
Elle Em / April 9, 2014 at 01:46 pm
Total cash grab masquerading as social responsibility.
Mark replying to a comment from Elle Em / April 9, 2014 at 02:07 pm
I believe that is the LCBO's corporate slogan.
Mary / April 9, 2014 at 02:36 pm
Damn there goes my dreams of opening another Skateshop/Manicure Shop/Salon/snackbar that serves alcohol!
jay / April 9, 2014 at 02:58 pm
So, if someone who opens a bar under these regulations happens to make a campaign contribution to their MPP, could it be construed as influence peddling? This sounds like it could cause unnecessary trouble for people, especially in the current political climate.
This is one Rob Ford ahs to own / April 9, 2014 at 07:24 pm
He campaigned on this, said he would push it through so that Toronto would have more choice...but it blew up in his face, didn't it. Now all his supporters are about to find it's a hell of a lot harder to cobble together a bar for the common man.

Nice move, we can't drink!
James / April 10, 2014 at 09:35 am
I blame the province on this one. They are getting the liquor revenues but not investing in the necessary resources for enforcement. This is another example of the province off loading costs to municipalities.
aDawg replying to a comment from Mark / April 10, 2014 at 10:09 am
I LOLed! Your comment wins the intrawebs today!
Ford campaigned on this... / April 10, 2014 at 12:40 pm
user-pic the pigeons have come home to roost. Figures.

If you can't get beer near your home, then he's the go to guy to blame. I thought he was FOR small business????
Toby replying to a comment from Mary / April 10, 2014 at 01:15 pm
I know a few salons that will 'give away' booze while you get your hair did.

Maybe you could just up the price of services and "give away" booze?

This might not be legal...
ryengjoe / April 11, 2014 at 10:53 am
Adam Vaughan will be all over this.
James / April 12, 2014 at 08:01 am
given the lack of bars in the city-especially of the hipster variety-this news is a real kick in the gut.
make ready / April 14, 2014 at 02:05 pm
as if vaughan-types needed even more of an ego. i saw him walking with some friends last summer, with at least a buzz on, and he made sure to berate the bouncer at wrongbar for having some ropes slightly out into the sidewalk. he wouldn't leave until the guy moved them inside, while his friends chuckled the whole time. "I'm the city councillor! Believe me, I know the rules!" guy moved them right back as soon as he was gone, of course.

better to know what your local representatives are actually like rather than judging them based on their voting records, when legislation like this gives politicians way more room to get petty revenge on people they don't like.
Glen Richards / April 21, 2015 at 11:16 am
A craft brewery opened behind my house which has a 'taste and tour' liquor permit for a pop up retail store. Friday and saturday nights have become a nightmare for local residents, people who have lived here for over 30 years are seriously considering selling their houses (with lowered value because of this 'pop up rave'. The noise is unbearable, you can no longer sit outside because of the loud music and even louder patrons. Are they tasting and touring, No, will anyone stop this…it looks very doubtful. We fully support their right to retail in bottles and cans, but by the glass for 8 hours on Friday and Saturday…and often the crowds stay much longer…we may have to resort to other tactics.
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