Toronto just made liquor licences even harder to acquire
Those 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