Approval moves ahead for new Brooks Landing liquor store

NANAIMO – City council is poised the Howard Johnson Harbourside Hotel the right to set up a liquor store at Brooks Landing.

The after-taste is sweet for one liquor store operator, who is close to winning the right to set up at Brooks Landing Shopping Centre despite an earlier decision to deny the application.

Nanaimo city council is now one vote away from approving a new liquor store at Brooks Landing on Departure Bay Road.

It’s a change in direction from an earlier decision to deny the rezoning application by the Howard Johnson Harbourside Hotel, which wants to move its Tally-Ho liquor license to Brooks Landing because of declining sales.

A majority of councillors were concerned last September about the proximity to Woodlands Secondary and Cilaire Elementary schools, as well as fairness for other liquor store proponents who’ve tried and failed to locate at the shopping centre because of city rezoning criteria. Several weeks later, however, politicians reversed the decision to allow the issue to go to public hearing last Thursday. Councillors voted at the meeting to give third reading of the application in a 6-2 vote.

Dan Brady, general manager for Howard Johnson Harbourside, said he’s elated and believes an announcement about the closure of Woodlands Secondary was a major factor.

“A lot of the councillors had concerns, rightly or wrongly, that the store is going to be too close to the high school and then it was announced the school was going to be closed. I think that changed their minds,” he said.

Coun. Gord Fuller was against the application earlier this year, but gave it approval last week, calling it an extremely tough decision. Key for him were changes with provincial liquor licensing and wine in grocery stores and “the fact that everywhere you look there’s a liquor store or a bar near a public school,” he said, pointing to the distance between the current Tally-Ho liquor store and École Pauline Haarer as an example.

Dean Gaudry, owner of Greenrock Liquor Store, has opposed the application since the start. He says city staff members have rebuffed liquor store proponents in the past who wanted to set up at Brooks Landing, including himself, and he wanted politicians to treat this application the same way. The recent decision flawed, he said, but it’s done.

Final adoption for rezoning is expected to go before council in January. Brady hopes to see the liquor store move next April or May.