City council is poised to allow another liquor store to set-up shop in Prince George – but they say it will be the last.
Last Monday at City Hall, council unanimously approved the application by Cross Developments to allow a liquor store in their plaza mall on 5th and Ospika – pending a final approval of several bureaucratic zoning issues.
Council supported the application, but was quick to recognize it’s novel status.
“This looks like it’s the last application of this kind,” said Coun. Murray Krause. “I don’t think we need a liquor store on every corner.”
There was a provincial-wide liquor store boom in 2002 after the Province changed it’s liquor licensing policy allowing most types of liquor establishments – including cold beer and wine stores – to file for the same license.
Eleven liquor stores have sprouted up in Prince George since ’02 and the current total sits at 21 stores within city limits.
Cross Developments’ application was spearheaded by local business-community advocate Harry Backlin, who passionately addressed council by appealing to their sense of free enterprise.
“This is a vital business. This is a legal business,” thundered Backlin, who sought to placate council concerns over possible alcohol-related incidents in an area (that includes a Mr.G convenience store) frequented by young people.
“We will engage a security company… I give the superintendent of the RCMP my word.”
Barry Cross, owner of Cross Developments, echoed Backlin’s assurances to reporters after the unanimous vote.
“If any security issues arise, we will take the proper steps to address them,” he said, adding that a liquor store at 5th and Opsika will be welcomed by local residents.
“I see it it as an improvement. We want to be a benefit to the area.”
And Larry Hyette, president of Mr.G, said his company had no problem with a liquor store opening next to one of it’s establishments.
“I’m a free enterpriser so I wouldn’t want to advocate against another businesses opening in the community,” he said from his Prince George office.
“Crimes like theft and vandalism happen everywhere and it will happen whether there is a liquor store around or not. We don’t think it will have any effect on our operation.”