Thunder Bay – The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is looking to allow the sale of beer and wine, as well as the serving of beer and wine, in convenience stores in the province.
“We may continue to see an increase in impaired driving fatalities in the province if the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario approves 7-Eleven’s proposal to allow 61 locations to act as impromptu bars, selling wine and beer for on-site consumption,” according to arrive alive DRIVE SOBER.
“Convenience stores lack the infrastructure, experience, oversight, and capacity to meet the standards necessary for safe service of alcohol,” said Anne Leonard, Past-President of arrive alive DRIVE SOBER, “especially as all locations are open 24 hours a day, and many include a gas station.”
For over thirty years, arrive alive DRIVE SOBER has partnered with government agencies, police services, health units, high schools, community groups, the insurance industry, the alcohol industry, and others to reduce instances of impaired driving in Ontario.
According to the Ministry of Transportation’s Ontario Road Safety Annual Report, the number of Ontarians who died as a result of impaired driving collisions (no precise data is available for the many more who are injured) rose from 148 in 2015 to 208 in 2017.
The numbers – which represent precious lives lost – are going in the wrong direction as alcohol continues to become more available in the province: grocery store sales, extended hours, and easing of regulations are not helping. As a result, Ontario can no longer boast the honour of having the safest roads in North America.
On February 12th the AGCO announced via Twitter that 61 7-Eleven locations were applying for permits for “on-site consumption only & only when that is once again permitted.” Amid a slew of other tweets, the news only became apparent to most on the evening of the 16th. A public consultation period is open until March 11th, and concerned citizens can make their opinions known here:
A Change.org petition has also been created.
Where 7-Eleven has been granted approval in the United States, some locations are even retailing liquor.
“While we believe that on-site consumption presents greater dangers than retail, there is also a concern that 7-Eleven may be using this application merely as a strategy so that they can later present take-away purchases as a reasonable compromise,” said Pete Wytka, Executive Director of arrive alive DRIVE SOBER. “We have a system in Ontario that works. It is well-established, effective, and responsible. Why endanger Ontarians for the convenience of a few, and profits for 7-Eleven? Weak legislation will cost more lives.”