Thunder Bay·Audio

'Devastating to our community': loss of LCBO store worries Hornepayne

The pending loss of the community's LCBO store will be "devastating" for the town of Hornepayne, the mayor said.

Pending store closure prompts concerns over community safety, economy

Hornepayne Mayor Cheryl Fort is calling on the province to consult with her community before closing Hornepayne's only LCBO store. The province announced earlier this month the store will soon close its doors. (Jeff Walters/CBC)
Hornepayne's LCBO is closing its doors ... and the news came as a shock to both the town's mayor, and the union representing the store's workers 7:09

The pending loss of the community's LCBO store will be "devastating" for the town of Hornepayne, the mayor said.

Mayor Cheryl Fort received notification from the province on September 17 that Hornepayne's only LCBO store will soon close its doors.

"Up until that point, we had no idea that this was coming," Fort said. "It's devastating to our community."

"The LCBO itself ... has values that we want to embody," she said. "It adds safety to the community, it adds a controlled environment for buying alcohol within the community, and all of these now come into question. How is this transition going to work? What's going to happen to our community members?"

Fort said the timing of the closure is also a concern, as it comes just as Hornepayne completes a full delivery service review.

"We're looking at doing long-term planning," she said. "We're looking at growth, we're having issues with housing right now in trying to diversify our housing. We are starting planning to diversify our tax base."

Leslie Gagnon, president of Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 683 — which represents Hornepayne's LCBO workers — said she's worried the closure of Hornepayne's store could mean more LCBO stores in smaller communities could be shuttered, as well.

The Hornepayne LCBO store is located in the Hallmark Centre. The province has announced plans to close the store. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

"We have a lot of small stores in the north," she said. "What the LCBO does for us is, it's a good-paying job, and we'd hate to see these good-paying jobs go."

There are currently two casual employees working at the Hornepayne store. However, there should be more: Fort said about a year ago, the store's manager left, and that position has not yet been filled.

"Really, it should be a manager, and a full-time staff, and then a casual," she said.

Fort said the community is working to find a way to keep the store open.

"This is a huge transition, and we should have been consulted," she said. "Hornepayne is really calling upon the province and the LCBO to consult with us."

"We need to make a plan that is actually made for Hornepayne," Fort said. "If small communities in the north are going to survive, they have to be consulted. We have to be at the table to help make decisions."