I had an email sent to me and was asked to publish it for you to read and think about. It is as follows:
I wrote a letter to the editor for both the Crowsnest Pass Herald and the Pass Promoter, but unfortunately missed the deadlines for both (as I was only recently made aware of the issue I write about below). I would like to get the word out about a decision that is to be made by Council on April 17 and am hoping that you might find the content of my letter appropriate for sharing with the readers on your blog. (Or at least for discussion with your family, friends and colleagues!) Thank you in advance for your assistance.
My name is Dana Tartal, and my father-in-law is Matt Tartal, owner of Frankslide Liquor in Frank, AB. I am writing to ensure that the residents and business owners of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass are aware of the potential consequences of a decision that is set to be made by Council via Public Hearing at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17, 2012. These consequences will impact not only my father-in-law and his business, but also the other residents and business owners of Crowsnest Pass alike.
If approved, Bylaw No. 844, 2012, would allow a liquor store to be built along Hwy. 3 in Frank, adjacent to the current locations of the Fast Gas and A&W restaurant… and less than 500 metres east of an existing liquor store in a community of only 263 residents (many of whom are minors)!
Now, I encourage you to ask yourself whether or not the approval of Bylaw 844 would be a good idea for your community and your family. As a small-town mother and business owner myself, I would propose that it would be reckless and irresponsible for several reasons; to be fair, let’s look at both the positive and negative impacts of this decision.
The owner of the proposed liquor store would enjoy his or her share of profits, and the municipality would receive increased tax revenues (at least until the weaker of the two liquor stores closes down). While a certain amount of competition is healthy and vital to a free market economy, there is a threshold at which point the supply outweighs the existing demand. In this case, there are some significant negative impacts that could result.
The collateral damage
The proximity and density of liquor stores in an area should be of particular importance to a community. There are many influential municipalities (including Edmonton, AB) who have already imposed bylaws specifically limiting the proximity of liquor stores in order to protect the wellbeing of community members as well as competing businesses. High densities of liquor stores in a particular area could result in increased Gaming and Liquor Act offenses. With greater competition comes an increased risk of selling liquor to minors in order to maintain revenues.
The approval of Bylaw 844 is akin to placing two A&W restaurants right beside each other. First of all, the franchise would never allow it because it simply doesn’t make sense; secondly, the two businesses sell the exact same products from the same distributors. In Alberta, the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission strictly regulates and controls all liquor products available for resale in the province. This means we’re not talking Teen Burgers versus Big Macs. Both liquor stores only have access to identical products, completely inhibiting the opportunity to differentiate oneself from the competition.
The proposed liquor store is also less than a 30 second drive from the existing liquor store in Frank. This is the gateway to the municipality for all westbound traffic into the community. How will this impact the perception of the travelling public and tourists alike? The municipality is currently reviewing the popular Thunder in the Valley event because of the risk to public safety; however, approving Bylaw 844 would create an image that this is a ‘party’ community.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, approval of Bylaw 844 would be in non-compliance with numerous policies outlined in the Crowsnest Pass’ Municipal Development Plan (MDP). Bylaw 844 requires a Land Use Bylaw amendment because a liquor store is not a prohibited use on a C-2 zoned lot; however, MDP Policy 9.4 states that “when land use bylaw amendments are proposed to accommodate new commercial uses, consideration shall be made to existing and adjacent land use patterns in the area.” Accordingly, having two liquor stores practically side-by-side should not warrant an approved amendment.
Additionally, MDP policies state that the municipality will “support existing local businesses”, “protect existing (commercial) developments”, and “attempt to manage adverse impacts on adjacent activities”. It is clear that approving Bylaw 844 will set dangerous precedence by conveying that the municipality will contravene its own policies, putting all local businesses at risk.
Would this new liquor store serve a need in the community that currently isn’t being met by the five liquor stores already operating throughout the municipality? Whether or not you agree with the statements I’ve made above, it’s important that you talk about this upcoming decision with your family, friends and colleagues. Evaluate the implications it may have on the social and business environment of the community, and how it may impact your family. Have your voice heard on April 17.