Death of a Beer Store

The Beer Store at Pretoria is closing. In and of itself, this is not particularly noteworthy, but the circumstances surrounding it are tad unsavoury.

Notice only went up for the closing last week. That is all the notice that the Beer Store had. The store is located in a relatively small commercial lot that also hosts a Liquor Store and a Loblaws. The landlord, Loblaws, wants to expand, so the Beer Store and the Liquor Store are closing. The Liquor Store is being renovated. The Beer Store is history.

It is easy to dismiss this matter, as Loblaws should be free to do with their property what they want. That is true to an extent (though property rights are an artificial construction). But the manner in which they have gone about this paints them as the stereotypical villain of cheesy Hollywood fare.

You see, this isn’t the first time Loblaws has attempted to expand. Situated in the north end of the Glebe, residents have objected vigorously each time. Consequently, all previous attempts to expand were thwarted. So, what does Loblaws do? They make these plans, set everything in motion and begin eviction plans without telling anybody.

It is easy to dismiss any controversy as typical NIMBYism; it is the Glebe, afterall. But the residents near the Loblaws have valid reason to be concerned about the expansion of the grocer. The south side of the lot is on Pretoria Ave., a mostly residential street. The west side of the lot is adjacent to Metcalfe Ave. (another residential street) across from a retirement community. The roads surrounding the lot are not capable of handling excessive traffic flows (one need only visit the area during rush to see the mess that Chamberlain, on the north side of the lot) becomes).

Neighbours of a property are stakeholders in that property, as the development, care or neglect of property has negative effects on the neighbours. Controlling for these externalities is why we have zoning laws and why we have public consultations. Owning a plot of land does not grant someone the privilege of ruining the enjoyment of their property.

The Loblaws development will certainly have an adverse impact on its neighbours. Is that enough to justify thwarting the development? I can’t say. But it is clear that the way Loblaws is going about this development makes them bad neighbours.

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