Winkler’s Wal-Mart and Superstore are closed on Sundays. What are locals supposed to do when they run out of farmer sausage and potatoes on the Sabbath?
It gets worse. Winkler has no liquor store. Instead, residents must drive over 10 kilometers to Morden or Plum Coulee to procure their libations.
According to an article in the Winnipeg Free Press, a few thirsty Winklerites complained about the lack of booze outlets to the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission. The MLCC forwarded these complaints to Winkler City Council and expressed its desire to construct a Liquor Mart in the neighborhood.
As of December 2013, the city’s 17 churches will no longer hold the monopoly as places where locals can renew their spirits.
Since self-serve liquor stores have been around since 1970, this addition to Winkler’s business bracket has been a long time coming. A liquor store will push Winkler to expand its small-town mentality and may also contribute to cultural and artistic growth.
Winkler is classified as a “partially-wet” community. “‘Partially wet,'” explains MLCC Senior Communications Coordinator Susan Harrison, “…simply means that the community has approved alcohol service under certain classes of licence…Winkler has been partially wet for some time and remains so – even with the establishment of a Liquor Mart – as there are still some classes of licence that cannot be issued in the city.”
With the installation of a Liquor Mart, Winkler will be one licence closer to becoming “wet”; a community with no restrictions on which licences can be sold. As the city continues to break licence barriers, clubs and bars are likely to crop up, enlivening Winkler’s hospitality and music industries. Winkler already has some hip hangouts such as Johnny’s Java, and additional businesses of this type will encourage further public interaction and growth.
Winkler’s 17 Christian-affiliated churches, on the other hand, may be less excited about the implications of a Liquor Mart in town. Southern Manitoba’s cultural conservatism is strong, and Winkler is no exception. It is likely that some religious types will argue against a liquor store and proclaim the sinful nature of the demon rum.
In an October 2011 interview with the Winnipeg Free Press, Pastor David Reimer expressed his views on Steinbach’s relaxed liquor bylaws. Reimer, a foster parent to more than 45 children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, explained that it is “a fallacy to equate liberalized liquor laws with progress.”
Those, like David Reimer, who have beheld the negative effects of alcohol first hand, are justified in their concern. Alcohol is dangerous. However, Winkler’s proximity to the nearest Liquor Mart is merely a walk down the street for an alcoholic. Those who need alcohol are going to find it, and a liquor store in town will not significantly increase alcoholism in the community.
Winkler mayor Martin Harder told the Winnipeg Free Press that a liquor store is “just part of being a growing community.” The city’s new bottle-shop is not equal to progress, but is an inevitable step in a thriving township. So let’s raise a glass to Winkler’s growth and its new Liquor Mart, even though it will probably be closed on Sundays.