Council voted this week to send lawyers to the Ontario Licence Appeal Tribunal to seek restrictions upon the sale and consumption of liquor in convenience stores.

7-Eleven is seeking liquor licenses for two of its Hamilton locations: it’s 415 Melvin Avenue location at Woodward Avenue in East Hamilton, and 622 Upper Wellington Street at Brucedale Avenue on Hamilton Mountain.

The City did not detail any of the conditions it is seeking to have imposed upon the licenses.

The Tribunal has already dismissed objections in four cases: Toronto (twice), London, and Sarnia.

In each case, the Tribunal imposed standard license conditions with a time limitation that 7-Eleven can only serve alcohol between 12:00 pm (noon) and 11:00 pm.

The convenience store company states they will only serve alcohol with the purchase of food. They state they will not serve “hard” liquor. The applications request permissions for seating areas for up to 10 customers.

Of the four cases, only one involved a municipality as an intervenor.

In this case, the City of Toronto reached an agreement with 7-Eleven and granted its consent to the application.

The City’s conditions were nearly the same as what the Tribunal is already imposing.

In the other Toronto case, a group of thirteen objectors banned together to hire a lawyer in oppose to an application at 1 Eglinton Avenue East.

In this Toronto case, and both the London and Sarnia cases, the objectors called University of Victoria psychology professor Tim Stockwell, Ph.D.

Dr. Stockwell detailed the concerns regarding convenience stores serving alcohol, especially with poorly paid staff who must potentially deal with the challenges of intoxicated and aggressive patrons.

Objectors expressed concerns both about underage persons seeing alcohol in a convenience store setting and the risk of underage persons being served.

In the cases, 7-Eleven cited its procedures for tobacco in response, which includes training and the use of mystery shoppers to verify compliance with regulations.

They were also alcohol served at 7-Eleven stores will contribute to an increase of aggressive and disruptive behaviour in the immediate vicinity.

Ontario’s liquor laws state the Tribunal is to issue liquor licenses unless objectors can prove it is not in the public interest.

The Tribunal noted this, “the onus is typically on any objectors to establish that issuing the licence is not in the public interest.”

Regarding expressed concerns, the Tribunal cited high rates of compliance by various liquor licensees with regulations and that 7-Eleven would risk their license if they fail to serve in a responsible manner. The Tribunal noted that 7-Eleven states they are not seeking to operate a bar, and will only sell alcohol with food.

The City of Hamilton, in its public statement, writes it expects the licenses will be granted in Hamilton.

“Understanding that municipalities have had little success in achieving a denial of licenses of these types by the AGCO, the City of Hamilton will seek reasonable constraints to be placed on alcohol sales at these locations,” it reads.

The City is not revealing what conditions it will seek. The City states the hearing at the Tribunal is scheduled for June 14 to 17.

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Current Version: 1.0.1
First published: April 28, 2022
Last edited: June 1, 2022
Author: Joey Coleman
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