Community action forces government to back down on closure of Westsyde liquor store

January 7, 2005

The closing sign is down and new stock on order, signalling a last-minute reprieve for the Westsyde liquor store in Kamloops. It had been scheduled to close its doors for good on January 8, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) said today.

"This is a victory for the citizens of Westsyde," said Karl Wolfe, BCGEU chairperson of local 505 representing liquor store employees in Kamloops. "Thousands of Westsyde and Kamloops residents channeled their anger over the closure of their liquor store into direct action. They came together, mobilized, gathered support, and delivered a strong message to the government it just couldn't ignore.

"Yesterday, the notices of closure came down and management began ordering new stock. Let's hope this decision to keep the Westsyde store open is permanent." Wolfe said BCGEU members at the Kamloops Distribution Centre have committed to ensure the liquor store receives a liquor order as of today so customers have stock for the upcoming weekend.

Wolfe and other BCGEU local 505 members spearheaded the campaign to keep the profitable government store open back in late October when the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) announced the decision to close 11 stores across the province including two in Kamloops--Westsyde and Thompson Park (slated to close October 2005).

"By early December, angry Kamloops citizens, lead by Westsyde residents, had collected several thousand signatures on petitions urging Liberal MLA Kevin Krueger to intervene to keep the Westsyde store open," Wolfe said. He and BCGEU staff representative Frank Anderson then met with Krueger, who eventually agreed to demand a review of the decision to close Westsyde.

Wolfe said people were optimistic when Krueger announced on December 17 that the minister had agreed to keep the store open until the decision had been reviewed, but their hopes were dashed at the end of December when the LDB head office instructed its store manager to post notices announcing the store's closure on January 8, 2005.

With stock running down, Wolfe and local NDP candidate Mike Hansen redoubled their efforts and continued to pressure Krueger to make the minister live up to his commitments. Yesterday, the signs came down at the store.

"It's taken the efforts of Westsyde and Kamloops citizens, and people like Mike Hansen and Kevin Krueger to get things moving this far. The next step is to keep the store open for good," Wolfe said. He has a call into Krueger and is hoping to hear back from him soon about the future of Westsyde.

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Contact: Carol Adams, (604) 291-9611

Karl Wolfe, (250) 579-8660