Tuesday in Toronto was one of those days you really didn’t want to walk far for alcohol.
And if every convenience store in the city stocked its shelves with beer and wine, more than half of all Toronto addresses would be within a six-minute walk to take-home booze.
The Ontario Convenience Stores Association is lobbying the provincial government for its member stores to be allowed to sell wine and beer. The organization says they are “increasingly concerned about the foreign-owned Beer Store selling products that are typically found in convenience stores.”
(The Beer Store, which holds a virtual monopoly on private beer sales in Ontario, is mostly owned by three multinational corporations outside of Canada.)
Ontario’s Finance Minister has said there are no plans to allow alcohol sales within the province’s convenience stores.
The plan, instead, is to expand the availability of certain products in specialty stores. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario plans to pilot 10 LCBO express kiosks within large chain grocery stores by the end of the year.
But if all major grocery chains and convenience stores could stock alcohol, what would that do to booze availability for Torontonians?
A 500-metre circle drawn around every LCBO and Beer Store in the city only captures about a quarter of all addresses – around 130,000, according to a map of Toronto addresses produced by the city’s Geospatial Competency Centre.
That more than doubles if you make beer available elsewhere: More than 280,000 addresses fall within 500 metres of a convenience store listed in the Yellow Pages. Tens of thousands more are within close range of a chain grocery store.
The city has more convenience stores than LCBO outlets, Beer Stores and independent agents combined.
Explore the interactive maps below to see what the current availability of alcohol in Toronto looks like compared to what it would look like if all corner stores and major grocery chains sold alcohol. A 500m circle is placed around the approximate address of each retailer, a reasonable measurement, we felt, for a short trip to the store.
Search your address in the box on the upper-left corner; double-click to zoom, click and drag to move around. Click a circle for details.