Stagnant liquor permits “do not exist” says SLGA

An discarded empty bottle of liquor sits in downtown Prince Albert. -- Herald file photo.

Prince Albert city council is looking at changing city bylaws over concerns about stagnant liquor permits in the community, however the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) has denied that any such permits exist.

On April 8, Mayor Greg Dionne raised concerns that a number of permits owned by people no longer running businesses where still available for potential sale. However, representatives from the SLGA say there are only 10 legitimate retail permits in Prince Albert, all of which have been issued to active businesses.

“SLGA does not issue or allow so called ‘stagnant permits,’” SLGA spokesperson David Morris wrote in an email to the Daily Herald. “A business must have plans to operate in order to receive a permit from SLGA and must continue to operate in order to maintain that permit. SLGA is not aware of any liquor permitted businesses in Prince Albert who are not operating.”

Morris added that permits automatically expire if they are not renewed.

It’s not unusual to see confusion about how liquor permits are handled. Morris wrote that the SLGA frequently talks with communities like Prince Albert when there are any questions or misunderstandings. Nevertheless, he was adamant that the 10 active businesses in Prince Albert were the only ones with active permits.

“Overall, there has not been an increase in the number of retail liquor store permits available,” Morris wrote. “Regarding the reference to ‘stagnant permits’ that haven’t been used for a number of years—these do not exist. The number of active retail permits in Prince Albert remains at 10 and no additional permits have been issued.”

Stagnant permits were one of several reasons given for bylaw changes brought forward by Dionne at the most recent city council meeting. During that meeting, council voted by an 8-1 margin to create a bylaw amendment banning new liquor store retailers from operating within 500 metres of any current one. The amendment will still have to come back before council for final approval.

In an interview after Monday’s meeting, Dionne said the bylaw was designed to keep retail liquor stores from clustering together and instead make sure that each part of the city had its own store.

He also said it was necessary because the city may get an influx of liquor stores due to the existence of these stagnant permits.

“Lots of these licenses that are now selling have been stagnant, and now that (the owners) are allowed to sell them, they’re valuable,” he said during the meeting.