Petition against closure of Beer Store approaches 700 signatures


As has been widely reported, the Barry’s Bay Beer Store is scheduled to be closed on June 16th, 2024. This has resulted in a large public outcry emphasizing the implications its absence will have on the local economy, especially during the summer tourist season. Above: Barry’s Bay Beer Store. Photo Facebook/Beth Hildebrandt. An online petition has been started by Beth and John Hildebrandt on For anyone interested in seeing the petition and reading comments from those who have signed it, please follow this LINK:

However unwelcome is the decision by the Beer Store owners to end its relationship to this community, it should not have come as a great surprise. This is because it follows last December’s announcement by the provincial government to relax the decades-old monopoly on the sale of alcohol including beer with effect from January 1st, 2026. This will substantially increase the number of retail outlets in the province, as consumers will be able to buy alcoholic beverages in supermarkets and convenience stores, among other places.

The Beer Store premises in Barry’s Bay are owned by Olsheski Holdings Inc. and The Current spoke to Joseph Olsheski on Friday. He confirmed that the conglomerate that owns the Beer Store — comprising three major brewing companies: Molson-Coors, Labatt (owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev), and Sleeman (owned by Sapporo) — would not enter into any serious negotiations to renew the lease even though they were only being asked for what amounted to a cost of living increase in the new rent, increasing it by an additional $327 per month. Instead, they responded by simply giving notice on April 9th that the store would be closed. Olsheski said he understands that this will be one of approximately 60 stores destined to suffer the same fate over the coming months. He believes that consumers will have no choice but to “grin and bear it” until the local market reacts to the new rules.

Although the petition does not specifically target any of the principals, it certainly seems justified as a means of putting pressure on the conglomerate given the lack of consideration it has extended to a market that it has profited from for many years. The insignificant additional cost of delaying the closing for another 18 months or so is a public relations gesture that cries out to be made. Mayor Mark Willmer is reported as saying that “this will be a huge loss to the village and area” and he promised to talk to MPP John Yakabuski and discuss it with Madawaska Valley Council “… and do whatever we can to put some pressure on them …” Hopefully this, together with the petition, will bear fruit.

In his discussion with The Current, Olsheski, who is a member of MV Council, said that consideration is being given to “different options. At this point in time we’re planning on retaining the building and we’re planning on bringing something in that the town needs, but it’s too early for me to make a comment on it…. We’ve been talking to people to bring something else that’s beneficial to the community in that building.” He said an announcement will be made in due course.


  1. Don Lomas

    Eve-Marie seems to think the Beer Store is government owned, or a Crown Corporation, like the LCBO. Not true, it is privately owned, so Doug Ford has no say in the decision. Remember, he is the one promoting selling beer in corner stores. He, in fact, is fuelling these closures by creating competition to the Beer Store.

  2. Eve-Marie Chamot

    It would also help to visit UFCW Local 12R24 page at and sign their petition. Actually BB residents should contact the Local 12R24 executive and try to organize a common campaign through Local 12R24 with other rural communities facing a “Beer Store” closure. Other stuff to do would be to ask MVT Council to adopt a resolution opposing the closure and send it to Doug Ford. Most of these closures are happening in PC ridings which are usually considered as “safe seats” so you need to tell Doug Ford they won’t be so “safe” for him if he insists on closing local “Beer Stores”. Doug Ford is much like a donkey:- a bit stubborn at times but he does respond to “carrots and sticks”. First you need to frighten him a little bit and then you need to sweetly reason with him and appeal to his inner accountant by talking numbers. A copy of this petition should also be sent to Doug Ford.

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