Petition campaign launched to fight Vernon public liquor store closure

October 6, 2006

Opponents of the provincial government’s plan to permanently close downtown Vernon’s only public liquor outlet say they’re launching a petition campaign this weekend outside the Fruit Union Plaza store that’s been targeted.

George Heyman, president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, says that while the plan for a new Signature store for Vernon is a positive development, the closure of two other locations including the Fruit Union Plaza site means that seniors and downtown residents will have to travel further to shop at a public liquor outlet.

"Downtown business districts across B.C. are having difficulty competing with suburban malls for customers," said BCGEU president George Heyman. "Public liquor stores help provide an anchor for local businesses by attracting customers from a wide area. The decision to close these downtown stores will only hurt efforts to revitalize Vernon’s downtown core."

Meanwhile, Betty Reid, chairperson of the BCGEU component for Liquor Distribution Branch staff, says the outpouring of anger from the general public and local businesses that’s emerged since Victoria first announced its plan to shut down the Fruit Plaza location has been amazing.

"We think we stand a good chance to harness that widespread opposition through the petition campaign to put pressure on the provincial government to reverse the closure decision," says Reid, who works for the LDB in Vernon.

This weekend, activists will be collecting signatures outside the Fruit Union Plaza location, 105-3101 Hwy. 6 in the downtown core, starting today from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Meanwhile, Reid says all names collected on the petitions will be presented during upcoming presentations to Vernon City Council (set for Oct. 23), and Coldstream council. A copy will also be presented to local MLA Tom Christensen.

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Contact Brian Gardiner, BCGEU communications 604 291-9611

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