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New retail liquor store allocations in Saskatchewan to be population-based

Communities in Saskatchewan will need a minimum population of 500 to qualify for a retail liquor store under the new policy.
Communities in Saskatchewan will need a minimum population of 500 to qualify for a retail liquor store under the new policy. File / Global News

Saskatoon and Regina, along with four other cities, will have to wait until their populations grow before any new liquor stores will be allowed.

The Saskatchewan government announced Thursday its new policy for allocating new retail liquor permits.

Communities need a minimum population of 500 to qualify for a retail liquor store under the new policy, with a maximum of 40 allowed for a community with a population of 275,000.

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Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Yorkton, and North Battleford are also not currently eligible for new liquor stores.

Melfort, Martensville, Weyburn and Estevan are each currently eligible for one additional retail store.

“When the government announced its new retail liquor model in November 2015, we committed to establishing a population-based matrix for allocating additional retail liquor store permits, once the transition to the new expanded private liquor retail model was complete,” Gene Makowsky, the minister responsible for Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), said in a statement.

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“We believe this new process of allocating retail liquor permits strikes a good balance between ensuring the public has adequate access, while also setting limits to the overall number of retail liquor outlets based on the population of the community.”

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Outlook, Sask. home to $40,000 bottle of Tullibardine whisky
Outlook, Sask. home to $40,000 bottle of Tullibardine whisky

The process for allocating additional liquor store permits will only start if interest is expressed in a community where there is an available permit.

When that happens, SLGA said, an online auction will be held with real-time bidding.

In such cases, all applicants will have to meet all terms associated with holding a retail liquor store permit.

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The new process will come into effect once all regulatory amendments are made.