Convenience store liquor licence opposed by neighbours

7-Eleven has applied for a liquor licence for its store at 366 Christina St. Tara Jeffrey

Tara Jeffrey

Residents in a central Sarnia neighbourhood aren’t thrilled that 7-Eleven wants to serve booze at its Christina Street store.

“The closer the neighbours are to this 7-Eleven the more vocal they are against it,” said Chris Burley, who heads the Heritage District Neighbourhood Watch.

“We don’t have any opposition to alcohol sales — we’ve got an LCBO, a beer store, restaurants and bars downtown — it just seems like a bad mix in this situation.”

Earlier this year, the convenience store chain applied for liquor sales licences at 61 Ontario locations — including 366 Christina St. — to allow for alcohol sales and consumption inside the store from 12 noon to 11 p.m.

Burley said no one in the neighbourhood recalls seeing a sign during the public notification phase.

“And we’re in the store every day.”

He said he learned of the application last week after receiving a call from an Ontario Public Service Employees representative.

The union — which represents LBCO workers — has been vocal in its opposition to the company’s licence applications, citing safety concerns for staff and surrounding neighbourhoods.

“The availability and promotion of alcohol in spaces where community members, including children and teens, gather to buy snacks, candy and food stables, carries risks,” the union said in a statement.

Its concerns include underage youth getting access to alcohol, aggressive, disruptive and intoxicated customers, and stores becoming a target for crime and robbery.

7-Eleven did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company has said it looks forward to the opportunity to showcase Ontario wine and craft beer products in “designated consumption areas.”

OPSEU has offered to cover the costs for community members to participate in a Jan. 13 and 14 hearing into the liquor licence application.

Letters from the community must be submitted by Dec. 21 to be included in the hearing.

“I believe someone from our group will be testifying in opposition,” said Burley, who is himself submitting a letter of concern.

“Personally, I feel that it just doesn’t seem like a really responsible business model to sell alcohol in an in-and-out business like that. You go to 7-Eleven because you need stuff quick. If you’re going in there and you’re drinking, are you just hopping in your vehicle and going back to work?”