Proposed Inglewood Caesar style liquor store, tourist shop down the drain

Rachel Drinkle is disappointed that her dream of opening a Caesar boutique has been dashed by what she calls outdated and irrelevant bylaws.  (Colleen Underwood/CBC - photo credit)

Rachel Drinkle is disappointed that her dream of opening a Caesar boutique has been dashed by what she calls outdated and irrelevant bylaws. (Colleen Underwood/CBC – photo credit)

Calgarian Rachel Drinkle says her dreams of opening a boutique store and a Caesar-style tourist shop in Inglewood were dashed by a city statute limiting the distance between liquor stores.

In 2003, a regulation came into effect mandating a 300-meter distance between shops, and is intended to prevent the proliferation of many shops, causing traffic, parking, noise and aesthetic concerns. But the city’s planning department has occasionally relaxed the rule depending on the situation.

And that’s exactly what happened in the case of Drinkle at first, until a nearby liquor store appealed and won.

“I was absolutely stunned by this particular decision,” said Drinkle. “I received an amazing letter from Tourism Calgary. I just had so much support behind it.”

In December, the city approved Drinkle’s request to change the location it had selected on 9th Avenue SE from a retail store to a liquor store, where it had hoped to sell Canadian salts, spices, vodka and gin.

But after the approval became known, the owner of the Klacking Bottles 130 meters away appealed.

In its decision released this week, the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board reversed the earlier decision and denied development approval.

Part of the decision read: “The Board therefore notes that the development authority has not fully considered the distance guidelines in relation to the proposed development and its impact on the community.”

In an email to CBC News, Klacking Bottles said it was pleased with the board’s decision.

“The judgment of the Appeals Committee is very clear and transparent. I am pleased that we as business owners in Calgary have this legal remedy,” said business owner Jigarkumar Patel.

Liquor store or Caesar store?

Drinkle believes the statute is irrelevant and outdated for a number of reasons.

First off, she says her business model is unique and not your typical liquor store. She added that Inglewood and several other neighborhoods are packed with breweries that sell beer across the street.

After all, she says, people can order alcohol online anywhere these days.

“Like the whole world [is] a liquor store on this spot,” Drinkle said.

count. Gian-Carlo Carra said he supports Drinkle’s business idea. He agrees that it’s a Caesar store and doesn’t compete with nearby liquor stores.

“I’m disappointed. I think it’s a very cool concept,” said Carra.

“It fits Inglewood beautifully, and I’m sorry that the regulations that the Council put in place to address exceptional circumstances of community vulnerability have been applied here.”

Rachel Drinkle

Rachel Drinkle

Carra suggests the board could have put in place some conditions to prevent a future tenant from converting it into a full-fledged liquor store, and specifically tied the permit to Drinkle.

In a letter to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board, Inglewood Business Improvement Area manager Rebecca O’Brien said they support Drinkle’s concept and that it “fits in with the main road,” but they also see the need for the 300 meters Statute for “Ensuring a Healthy Retail Space”.

They also suggested that some conditions with a permit should be met, such as: B. The need for an annual permitting process to prevent a traditional liquor store from popping up when the location changes hands.

Difficulty finding a new location

Drinkle says she’s been told she can reapply once she has a new location, but there aren’t many places that meet the 300-metre rule in prime locations.

“It has to be in a place that has that tourist appeal, and it has that walkability, and it has that funky boutique vibe — everything that Inglewood has to offer,” Drinkle said.

She could also ask the city council for a land-use rezoning specifically for a Caesar deal that bypasses the bylaws, she said, but it would take more time and money.

Meanwhile, Drinkle plans to focus on another Caesar project, YYCaesarfest, which she had to postpone until last year just as the pandemic hit. At the festival, which takes place for the second time in May, local vendors and bars present different variations of the popular drink.


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