Controversy brewing in Hanwell over NB Liquor agency store
Published Monday, February 25, 2013 7:16PM AST
Opposition is brewing against a recent decision made by NB Liquor.
People living in a small community just outside of Fredericton don’t like the corporation’s choice to run an agency store, saying NB Liquor is casting its nets too far.
The Hanwell Village Mart has been operating for two decades. The small grocery store is run locally, employs area residents, and serves people in a number of communities.
It was one of three businesses that applied to serve as one of NB Liquor’s agency stores, but it wasn’t chosen.
“We’re getting quite a bit of support and I have in my hand here a petition with 2,000 names on it,” says George Dignam, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Hanwell.
NB Liquor’s decision to award the agency store to a Moncton-based company isn’t sitting well with Hanwell residents. Hundreds are expected to attend a public meeting Monday night to have their questions answered.
“What I want to know is why an outside company, if you will, could be given preference over two local establishments that have been here in excess of 20 years?” asks Dignam.
The owner of the other local store says had his application been successful, he would have expanded his operation and hired more people.
“It gives you a monopoly within the community of a product that your competitors cannot match, so it really gives you a huge leg up over the others in the community,” says Chris Scholten.
The local applicants aren’t the only ones surprised and disappointed with the corporation’s decision.
“It really makes me…mad I guess,” says Hanwell resident Pat Hawkes. “It’s Moncton. It should be here. It’s a local deal.”
“I’m rather disappointed with that,” says area resident Bob Doucette. “I sort of question as to how it may all have come about as well, because it seems like a vacant lot turns into a possibility of a growing concern.”
The Moncton-based owner plans to build the agency store about a kilometre inside the Hanwell line and only about 10 kilometres from NB Liquor’s nearest corporate store.
“As of now, there’s no process to reverse a board decision,” says NB Liquor spokesperson Marcelle Saulnier. “However, we have been taking in the concerns.”
While NB Liquor says it’s not about to reverse its decision, the Concerned Citizens of Hanwell group says it will keep up the pressure.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell