Liquor store discussion heats up legislature
The Opposition raised questions in the provincial legislature Friday over the decision to close the Wood Islands liquor store.
"A question for the premier, will you stop this unprecedented assault on rural P.E.I. by overturning this decision to close the Wood Islands liquor store?" asked Opposition house leader Steven Myers.
Premier Robert Ghiz responded saying he believes the decision to close the liquor store is best for all of P.E.I.
"This is about making sure we maximize our resources the best we can to help out every area of the province," Ghiz said
Earlier this week Tourism Minister Robbie Henderson said the province decided to open two privately-run liquor stores in Eastern Kings County.
He added, as a result of those openings, the province would be closing the seasonal liquor store at Wood Islands, where the ferry between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island docks.
Tourism Minister Robbie Henderson said he thinks having two stores open instead of one will result in increased sales.
"Well it's all about profits here. It's not necessarily about just what the sales would be," Henderson said, "I would assume that those sales in the two agency stores would be at least as comparable to (the existing Wood Islands) location."
Liquor sales at the Wood Islands store totalled about $500,000 last year, that’s about $2,700 lower than the previous year.
But the store was only open for four and a half months, from May through October.
Sylvain Delafontaine, administrator for the Wood Islands and Area Development Corporation, said this decision will hurt the other businesses that share the complex with the store.
"Well the other tenants are here because they want to get the patronage," Delafontaine said.
"People stop at the liquor store, see that there's other places and people go to the other places. And that's how they generate more business by being next to them. (The surrounding businesses) are all quite disappointed."
Myers said the area is an important area for tourism and a gateway to Nova Scotia.
"That area and the ferry is vital to eastern Prince Edward Island. It's the gateway to our tourism from Nova Scotia and by closing that centre we have there, it really shows the distain that this government has for the eastern part of the province," Myers said.
Liberal MLA for Belfast-Murray River Charlie McGeogehan said the government would work with the WIDC to find other tenants for the building.
"I think there is a service there that we can provide there that both the people at the Wood Islands and Area Development Corporation, the local people that live there and tourists to utilize better," McGeogehan said.
He said the government will work to provide jobs for the seven employees at the liquor store and that the closure won’t happen for another year.