(Edmonton, April 4th, 2016)
In a recent poll, Edmontonians have expressed concerns with proposed changes to liquor store zoning bylaws being brought before City Council. The changes to bylaw 12800 would soften the current 500-meter requirement between liquor stores, allowing a greater number of stores in closer proximity to one another. The changes are being supported by Costco and Qualico developers, and will come before City Council at the end of April, 2016.
The poll, conducted by Pantheon Research and State Strategies Group on behalf of the Alberta Liquor Store Association (ALSA), found a vast majority of Edmontonians do not support the proposed bylaw changes due to the potentially harmful impact on public health and safety that is associated with the proliferation of liquor stores. The survey also found that residents are content with the status quo, and strong objection to the proposed amendments is consistent in all city wards.
ALSA President Ivonne Martinez says the liquor industry in Alberta echoes Edmontonians’ opposition to the proposed bylaw amendments which have been made clear in this poll, “Edmontonians across the city, and in every ward, are against the proposed amendments to current liquor stores zoning bylaws. Ultimately, 57.8% of respondents oppose the amendments, with 19.3% supporting the changes, and another 12.6% supporting the changes only with more consultation. Among our membership there is even less to suggest that there is a zoning issue that needs addressing. The liquor store separation bylaw has worked for the past 10 years, and continues to serve communities well. It really begs the question as to why city council is spending time trying to amend this bylaw.”
Jaskaran Sandhu, Managing Principal for State Strategies Group added, “The poll clearly shows that there are real concerns for public health and safety that come with a higher concentration of liquor stores. Edmonton already has approximately 300 liquor stores and the changes could significantly increase liquor licenses in the city. This number is very high, on a per capita basis, when you compare it to other jurisdictions. These public concerns, not so surprisingly, align with studies which show that with a higher density of liquor stores come greater public health and safety problems. It is safe to say that Edmontonians are happy with things the way they are, and that any proposed changes will require more consultation and the informed opinions of experts like Alberta Health Services on the impact of more liquor stores per sq./km.”
Ivonne Martinez concludes, “Edmontonians across the city are confused why amendments are even being considered. Even amongst the few that support the proposed amendments, many want to see more consultation first. Edmontonians also expressed that it would be important to them to hear from the Edmonton Police Services (EPS) on their position to these changes. 57.5% of respondents believe the EPS should give a public opinion on the matter.”
The survey of 1,730 Edmonton residents was conducted between March 19th, and March 23rd using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology. The individual ward samples range between 132 and 145 responses. The overall sample has a margin of error of +/- 2.3%, 19 times out of 20.
The Alberta Liquor Store Association (ALSA) was formed in 1994 following the privatization of Alberta's liquor industry. The creation of the ALSA was driven by two primary objectives which were to provide its members with a unified voice for its members in their dealings with government, the public, the media and others in the liquor industry; and a forum for the exchange of ideas, trends and leading practices that promoted customer service, industry well-being, and an industry code of ethics. Since 1994, ALSA has grown to represent over 570 independent retail liquor stores from every community across Alberta. Membership includes small, medium and larger-sized businesses, some of which have multiple locations.