NB Liquor agency store dispute in Hanwell goes to ombudsman
Convenience store owner contends contract should have gone to local bidder
The owner of a convenience store near Fredericton who lost his bid to become an agency store for NB Liquor is taking his case to the provincial ombudsman.
Chris Scholten, of Scholten's Convenience Store in Hanwell, contends local bidders are supposed to be given preference.
But the Hanwell contract went to Moncton-based gas retailer Power Plus Technology instead.
Scholten says he's gone through the NB Liquor review process, has spoken to the president of the Crown agency and even put a call in to the minister of finance, but is still not satisfied with the answers he's received about why the other company won.
"We feel that even the mandate of this agency program has been violated. We feel that the procedures that were to be followed have been violated. And we question the evaluations of the independent proposals as well — that they were unfairly evaluated," he said.
"So we're just looking for an independent review to make sure that the proper decision was made."
Hanwell Village Mart had also applied to be an agency store.
Jason Lutes, the owner of Power Plus Technology, has said he believes the matter is being blown out of proportion and denied being awarded the contract because of any political connections.
He was already planning to build a convenience store in the area before the call for applications from NB Liquor for an agency store, he said.
Lutes will build the store next to the Trans-Canada Highway near Hanwell, along with a gas bar and convenience store.
Some Hanwell residents have expressed concerns the new store will pull business away from existing stores in the area. The issue has sparked the creation of a new community group called Concerned Citizens of Hanwell and a petition.
NB Liquor officials have said decisions about new agency stores are based on customer traffic, location and site evaluation, among other criteria.