Penticton liquor store left in limbo

Owner of Three Gables Liquor Store fighting B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Board decision against moving his store out of the downtown

A Penticton businessman is not giving up the fight to move his licence to operate a liquor store out of downtown.

Three Gables Liquor Store owner Malvindar Randhawa petitioned the City of Penticton for a second letter of support last month, and has now engaged a lawyer to start formal proceedings to request the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch reconsider its decision to deny his move.

“I am still moving, I am still going to try. Now they denied me and they don’t want to reconsider,” said Randhawa, who added he has tried contacting many levels of the LCLB administration. “Every time I ask a question that they don’t like, I don’t get any response from them.”

A year ago, Randhawa began the process of trying to move his liquor store licence from Martin Street in downtown Penticton — where there is a competing shop across the street — to another property owned by his family at Calgary and Fairfield, where he planned to construct a new residential/commercial development.

Despite support from the city, the application was turned down, primarily because the new location would be within one kilometre of the Government Street Liquor outlet, which strongly opposed the move. Randhawa argues that according to the LCLB, they are only 60 metres short of the required distance. Even then, said Randhawa, that is the distance measured “as the crow flies.” The actual distance by road is 1.2 kilometres.

Randhawa’s request for a second letter received strong support from some councillors and the mayor.

Mayor Dan Ashton supported the Randhawa move as beneficial for downtown as a whole, a point Randhawa also made when asking for council’s support.

“Staff in Victoria has no real concept of what is happening in our city and what will be best for us,” said Randhawa in his request. “I am putting forth an answer to most of the problems downtown. I hope all concerned will take the time to seriously assess the situation and use their better judgment to come up with a solution.”

“There have been issues in regard to the amount of liquor available in the downtown core. This may solve an issue for us in more ways than one,” said Ashton, noting the city’s preference not to have two liquor stores on the same block. However, he also noted that another decision by the LCLB might be affecting the Randhawa decision.

“I have been told that there has been an approval of another liquor store at Fairview and Industrial, so that may come into play,” said Ashton. “I think our liquor laws are archaic. I don’t quite understand the method to their madness.”

A liquor store at that location would be very close to an existing outlet at Cherry Lane shopping centre.

“We were trying to map it the other day, it is very close, it is 0.97, 0.98 of a kilometre, where you point the arrow into Cherry Lane,” said Randhawa, who is concerned there may be preferential treatment, since, like his, this application is for the move of a licence. In this case, it is for the Bubblee’s outlet, which was closed when Slack Alice’s burned down last year.

The Fairview and Industrial store would only be about 0.7 km from Randhawa’s proposed location, but he isn’t concerned about the competition.

“No one is a kilometre apart, we don’t have a kilometre area in the city to be apart with nine private liquor stores,” said Randhawa. “Let there be competition between me and him. Everybody else is in competition, what’s wrong with that?”