Published:December 7, 2021

-Global News

A north Edmonton 7-Eleven store is the first in Alberta to not only sell alcohol but also allow it to be consumed in the store, prompting an organization representing liquor stores to raise concerns.

“(We have been) advocating for safe consumer choices and responsible retailing,” Ivonne Martinez, president of the Alberta Liquor Store Association (ALSA), told Global News on Tuesday. “We don’t necessarily feel that that’s necessarily where a gas station should be selling liquor.

“We’ve done polling. Albertans have told us 75 per cent of them do not want liquor in convenience stores for the same reason they don’t want minors to have access to liquor.”

Despite the ALSA’s concerns, the 7-Eleven in Edmonton’s Hudson neighbourhood is not breaking any rules.

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis, the government agency to which businesses must apply for liquor licences, told Global News that “a business that is interested in offering liquor service must apply and are reviewed by AGLC to ensure the style of business meets the requirements for the type of licence they are applying for.”

“As part of the application process, a public notice was posted on to consider any objections from the public,” the agency said in a statement. “No formal objections were received for this licence. Applicants must meet all policy requirements and obtain all municipal approvals. A final inspection is the last step before a liquor licence is issued.”

The AGLC noted the 7-Eleven “adapted their business to meet the requirements of this type of licence (Class A Minors Allowed liquor licence).”

“It is the restaurant in the 7-Eleven that is licenced for liquor service — similar to several existing retail businesses, such as gas stations, specialty grocery stores or Ikea, that have cafés and restaurants within their premises that meet these requirements and are currently licensed.”

According to Martinez, the ALSA was understanding that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the province allowed for restaurants to sell alcohol with take-out orders.

“The industry at large really understood this was necessary to assist restaurants to survive during this time.” she said. “I’m not quite sure the regulation was meant to be for Slurpees and hot dogs.

“7-Eleven has found the ability to use this loophole: apply for a restaurant Class A with minors licence and received it because it was allowed.”

Martinez said when people think about convenience stores or gas stations, they think of them as somewhere to get a frozen ice drink.

“The schools, when they close, the kids go and convene and we know that cigarettes and tobacco products are ending up in youth hands, in minors’ hands,” she said. “What’s stopping them from having access to liquor?”

Martinez noted that liquor stores are subject to strict rules when it comes to their location and suggested alcohol being available at convenience stores does not make sense.

“We’re not allowed to be close to parks, schools and/or daycares,” she said. “There are three schools around that specific gas station and that causes issues.

“Our main vision is to have responsible retailing, that liquor gets into the right hands… Minors are not allowed into our stores.”

In response to a request for comment from Global News, 7-Eleven Canada issued a statement in which it said the company “continues to innovate and provide convenience to Canadians.”

“We test a variety of programs in our stores that promote an excellent experience for our customers,” the company said. “We have received positive feedback from customers about the expanded food and beverage assortments and look forward to continuing to meet customers’ expectations.

“We’re excited by the opportunity to pilot… (licensed food service) in our Edmonton location.”

7-Eleven Canada noted the licensed food service at its north Edmonton location “soft launched” on Monday.

“This location will follow the same rules that apply to other restaurants,” the company added. “Canadians have told us they want the convenience of beer and wine products with their meals and snacks.​”

“Food is a significant part of 7-Eleven’s business today. We are a member of Restaurants Canada with a seat on the board there.”

“Unfortunately, this is legal,” Martinez said.

The AGLC noted that Class A Minors Allowed licences “require that all staff must meet mandatory ProServe liquor staff training certification requirements and be available to prepare food, serve food/liquor and supervise patrons during all hours of liquor service.”

7-Eleven Canada said all employees at its north Edmonton location that is serving alcohol have completed ProServe training as well as foodservice training.

“Currently, retail liquor stores are able to sell liquor-related items, including things like soft drinks, glassware, caesar rimmers and a number of other items listed in the retail liquor store handbook,” the AGLC noted, adding it will continue to work with its stakeholders.