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Feb. 18, 2019 | Monday
Local News
Council passes motion to support modernized alcohol sales
Glasses rest on a table of ice at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival 2017. (Richard Harley/Niagara Now)

On Jan. 15, Niagara-on-the-Lake council was presented with a resolution to support modernized alcohol sales which could benefit local wineries and grape growers.

In recent years, the provincial government has taken steps to modernize alcohol sale and consumption. Its goal is to expand the sale of beer and wine to corner stores, grocery stores and big-box stores based on market demand.

The government has also asked for public input through an online survey which will close on Feb. 1, 2019.

In his letter to the council Matthias Oppenlaender, Chair of Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO), asked the council to pass a resolution and show support of 100 per cent Ontario-grown grapes and wine by sending a letter to the provincial government and area MPPs.

“The GGO believes that this decision represents a significant opportunity for our municipalities and Ontario wine regions to grow a more robust grape and wine industry,” said Oppenlaender’s letter. “However, we need to ensure that the retail model supports the local 100 per cent Ontario-grown industry so that we can continue to provide economic benefit to our local communities.”

Coun. Erwin Wiens said Niagara-on-the-Lake has 45 wineries and the overall economic impact of Grape and Wine Industry of Ontario was $4.4 billion.

According to GGO, this economic impact includes $2.97 billion in business revenue, $870 million in wages, 18,000 jobs and $522 million in tax revenue. The industry also generates $847 million of tourism-related economic impact.

“All I’m asking is that, as we move forward, we support the agriculture,” said Wiens. “All we want to do is we want the Government of Ontario to recognize the fact how important the industry is and that their decision is going to impact us, and I’d like our town to support that.”

Coun. Cheropita pointed out how the Niagara region’s wineries alone generate $2.2 billion which is 50 per cent of the total provincial revenue.

“It’s that significant,” she said.

The resolution moved by Coun. Wiens stated, "this decision represents the significant opportunity to strengthen Niagara's economy by growing Ontario's wine and craft beer industries through increased customer access."

The town will now submit the resolution to the provincial government and area MPPs as part of public consultation and it will be circulated to Niagara municipalities for consideration and support.

To take part in the survey, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/have-your-say-alcohol-choice-and-convenience-for-the-people.

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