Leadership with the Kenora OPP is continuing to lobby the province to make security changes at northwestern Ontario LCBO locations to better protect employees, officers and those in need of help.

“What we’re looking for across the region - because we all have the same issues whether it be Kenora, Red Lake, Dryden, Sioux Lookout…we’re looking for the LCBO to go to more of a Manitoba model,” explains Inspector and Detachment Commander, Jeff Duggan.

Duggan explains that he’d hope to see security personnel present at the LCBO’s entryway who would be checking residents’ identification before letting you inside the store. It would act similarly to Ontario’s regulations for cannabis retailers.

“It prevents thefts,” explains Duggan. “It prevents people that are trespassing. But the biggest thing is it protects the staff and it reduces our calls for service.”

Duggan explains that in Manitoba, increasing security has reduced thefts by over 90 per cent – a major success. He adds that he’s also asking to see the LCBO close at least one day per week.

“There were comments made about giving police a break… that’s not really the case. It’s to give our social service agencies a chance to intervene. And for people to say okay, I need to reach out to help. That’s hard to do when you’re under the influence six or seven days a week.”

Duggan explains that closing for one day a week has worked in Sioux Lookout – as their store closes on Mondays. Duggan adds it gives everyone a 'chance to reset.’

However, Duggan says so far, Ontario’s Liquor Control Board hasn’t been interested in the potential changes. As it stands, Duggan says he is continuing to lobby them and will be working alongside community partners and social services to tackle the issues seen downtown.

Duggan brought up the issue in a Police Services Board at City Hall earlier this month, where he reported that employees and OPP officers regularly deal with thefts and assaults.

But this isn’t the first time that he’s warned of issues at Kenora’s downtown LCBO location.

In July, Duggan reported that he had been working alongside the province and management of Kenora’s LCBO to help curb a string of shoplifting incidents, after officers responded to 60 calls for service at the LCBO between January and July, 2022.

In 2019, Kenora councillors actually explored the possibility of relocating Kenora’s downtown LCBO location elsewhere, citing ongoing traffic, social and safety concerns in the area.

A meeting with Ontario’s former Finance Minister Rod Phillips to explore the issue took place at an Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference that year, but the file hasn’t really moved since.

For now - Kenora’s downtown LCBO location remains at 546 Park Street, just off of the Kenora Shoppers Mall, the Beer Store and Parkview Apartments and just up the road from Central Park.