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London, Ont. labour group and politicians against 7-Eleven selling alcohol near Western campus

Londoner's including MPP Terence Kernaghan, Western University professor David Heap, and London and District Labour Council vice-president Jeff Robinson, are opposed to the idea of a 7-Eleven on Western Road selling alcohol. Andrew Graham / 980 CFPL

The London and District Labour Council and local politicians are fighting against 7-Eleven’s application to sell liquor at a local connivance store.

The group said it has learned that the corporation has filed 61 applications for liquor licences in 31 municipalities with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

In an email to Global News, a spokesperson from the AGCO said “these licences, if granted, would allow the sale, service and consumption of alcohol inside the stores only [and] take out of alcohol would not be permitted.”

Read more: Western mourns loss of first-year student as man accused in his death appears in court

One of the London locations in question is located at 1181 Western Rd., across from Western University and the site where a freshman student was killed in September 2021.

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“They’re calling themselves a restaurant, and we don’t feel like 7-Eleven is a restaurant,” said Jeff Robinson, first vice president of the labour council. “We basically feel that they’re trying to turn their gas station and convenience store into a local bar, and we feel like the last thing this community needs is another bar.”

“People are coming to gas their cars, and now they can go in and have a beer or a wine, and it’s very concerning,” he added.

The labour council is concerned the store is open 24 hours a day.

Robinson also cited the proximity to Western University as a major concern, saying it could make it easier for underaged university students to buy alcohol.

“Western University has obviously well-documented issues with underage drinking and sexual violence and other kinds of assaults that are fueled by alcohol,” he said. “The last thing they need is more access to alcohol.”

Western community member David Heap echoed similar concerns, highlighting the company’s “very quiet application process.”

“The public notice period happened last winter. We only heard about it in March,” Heap said. “It happened at a time when the whole campus and most of the country was in lockdown. … It’s really flying under the radar of the community, the local businesses and the campus community.

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“The Licensing Appeals Tribunal didn’t even give Western intervener status as an objector,” Heap added. “They said that they’d applied too late.”

He continued that “obviously, it’s a concern on campus.”

“As Jeff mentioned, sexual violence or alcohol-fuelled partying is a problem on campus [and] one more alcohol outlet isn’t going to improve the situation for anybody.”

Some of the labour council’s concerns are shared by several location politicians, such as Ward 6 Coun. Mariam Hamou.

“There are over 4,000 first-year students within the direct vicinity of this store and putting alcohol sales here is a recipe for disaster,” Hamou said.

“There are some serious safety issues, and we need to help people feel safer in this area. I strongly recommend against any additional alcohol stores around underaged student residences and therefore hope this application is rejected.”

MPP Terence Kernaghan said he is against the idea of the 7-Eleven near Western and Sarnia roads being licensed to sell alcohol. Andrew Graham / 980 CFPL

MPP Terence Kernaghan has raised some of his personal concerns about increased traffic hazards and community safety issues with the proposed licence, which is located near two schools.

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“Residents and nearby businesses have been clear that 7-Eleven should not be granted liquor licences that allow people to drink inside corner stores,” Kernaghan said. “It’s not fair to struggling local restaurants and bars, presents serious issues to community safety, and won’t make anyone’s lives better.

“7-Eleven isn’t a restaurant, regardless of what they might argue, or what deal they might be trying to cook up with Doug Ford.”

Allowing convenience stores to sell beer and wine was one of Premier Doug Ford’s campaign promises back in 2018.

Read more: 7-Eleven’s Ontario in-store alcohol plans are a new take on old model, restaurant group says

Due to the large amounts of public and community interest in these applications, the AGCO issued a Notice of Proposal (NOP) in reviewing all 61 applications for liquor licences that 7-Eleven has filed across the province, including three in London.

According to the AGCO, an NOP is a process where the applicant is advised that the registrar proposes to review, refuse, revoke or suspend a licence.

The decision was appealed to the LAT and a hearing is scheduled to begin on Friday to discuss the possibility of the 1181 Western Rd. location obtaining a liquor licence.

A spokesperson from the AGCO confirmed to Global News that “to date, no licences have been issued to 7-Eleven.”

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The additional 7-Eleven locations applying to sell alcohol in London are:

  • 76 Wharncliffe Rd. N. The liquor licence application has been approved. However, the location still needs to meet the conditions set by inspections from the London Fire Department, bylaw enforcement, and local health departments.
  • 1076 Commissioners Rd. The LAT hearing of the application concluded on June 21, though it is still waiting for a decision from the tribunal.

“Those that hold a liquor licence are subject to specific rules and regulations to ensure that alcohol is served safely and responsibly — for example, not to serve anyone who is intoxicated or underage,” said AGCO staff.

Global News has reached out to 7-Eleven Canada for comment but has yet to receive a response.

— with files from Global News’ Andrew Graham

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