The Toronto Star is reporting today that the Ontario government plans to sell off its 200-million dollar LCBO waterfront warehouse, as recommended by the Drummond report, in an attempt to reduce the province’s massive deficit. Hmm, if they’re selling off the warehouse, could this mean a markdown on inventory or, Dalton forbid, the first domino to fall in a bid for liquor-store privatization?
Not so fast. “A flagship retail store will remain in the vicinity, while head office and warehouse could be moved,” says finance minister Dwight Duncan. So we can’t just say no to the LCBO yet, it seems.
One thing I’ve noticed on my occasional trips back to Calgary is how much cheaper booze is back home, not just retail, but even in bars (though it didn’t appear to be the case last summer). That’s because there are no government-owned liquor stores in Alberta; it’s all private enterprise. Not only are these places open late, but they actually have sales *gasp* and not just the provincially-mandated, two-dollars-off-a-case-of-Corona for the May long weekend variety, either. Competitive pricing—what a concept!
Y’know, there are times when I’ve pondered a move to Montreal, without actually following through on it. I once saw a grocery-store flyer for a regional chain advertising a special sale price on a 24 of Heineken—that’s right, Heineken—for 24 dollars. It used to be you could get a case of Lakeport for that price in Ontario, but that was two price increases ago. And yes, they do sell beer at grocery stores in Quebec, as well as convenience stores, those famous dépanneurs. I figure that all the additional taxes and fees I’d pay to the Quebec government would be offset by the massive amount I’d save on booze, but I’ve yet to prove that theory.
On that note, I’d imagine that the sale of liquor is giant cash cow for our provincial coffers and, waterfront warehouse aside, I can’t see them divesting themselves of the LCBO anytime soon. Methinks it’s time for a beer run down to Buffalo, where a pint of Blue is only three dollars and is so watered down that it won’t get you drunk. Erm, on second thought… Let’s just hope that this Drummond report doesn’t recommend raising beer prices as a means to reduce the deficit.