With a newly constructed flagship LCBO store that has recently opened in East Windsor, many residents have wondered whether or not redevelopment in the core of the city would prompt the provincial Crown corporation to upgrade its only existing facility downtown.
“The downtown Windsor store did receive an interior upgrade two years ago and there are no current plans for additional upgrades in the near future,” explained Sally Ritchie, the Senior Communications Consultant for the LCBO who had spoken with colleagues in Store Development & Real Estate to confirm the fact.
The LCBO operates 634 stores in more than 300 communities across Ontario and while plans to open a new facility in downtown Windsor are not in the works, overall, the LCBO is expanding rapidly throughout the province.
“We are currently in the midst of our largest ever store network expansion, adding some 30 new and upgraded stores last year with a further 35 planned for this fiscal year,” said Ritchie. “Our new store at 7640 Tecumseh Rd. E. in Windsor is part of this province-wide strategy.”
The LCBO determines where to invest capital based on market research and Ritchie explained that this research enables the LCBO to make investments in areas which will provide the best financial returns for Ontario taxpayers.
“Market studies consider factors such as perceived gaps in our current level of service; current and future population, residential and commercial growth; the potential for incremental sales and transference of sales to other LCBO outlets serving the community,” said Ritchie. “Such analysis has proven highly effective, as witnessed by the extent new and upgraded stores contribute to LCBO’s ability to deliver record annual dividends to the Ontario government in a challenging economy.”
Not all are content with the state of the LCBO and PC Finance Critic Peter Shurman believes that under a semi-privatized system, there would be a wide array of stores in many locations and that some would offer select services which in turn would help foster further competition.
“If you’ve got one [flagship store] and it serves its immediate vicinity. And to access it, you have to drive [several kilometers] because there’s no other ones near you, and if you’re subject to the machinations of the people who are doing the buying and stocking it, you can see what our approach is really founded upon,” said Shurman who believes that Ontarians should be treated as “adults” and should have better access and more stores.
Shurman noted that LCBO physical locations are “huge investments” and while he agrees that they’re “wonderful for the most part” that “they are very expensive real estate and if you add that to the fact that you have limited branch choice and limited access, you’re creating an imposition on Ontarians.”
The root of the matter for Shurman is the question of whether or not governments should be operating private businesses.
“If you get [better customer service and increased accessibility] by taking some of the government operations private and the result is that you unlock what could be many millions of dollars of capital that is tied up in these investments, you wind up having the money to invest in the infrastructure that everybody across the province is crying out for,” said Shurman.
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.