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Winkler soon to get its first liquor shop

"DRY" Manitoba communities are dying out, with Winkler the latest one to go "wet."

The Manitoba Liquor Control Commission is expected to announce today it's opening a liquor store in Winkler, 102 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg.

"Let's face it: Winkler is a destination for shopping" in the Pembina Valley, with its Walmart and other big-box stores, said Winkler Mayor Martin Harder. "So it all makes sense."

Previously, people in Winkler would drive 10 kilometres down the road to Morden to buy liquor. Winkler already has a hotel that sells beer.

However, some residents complained to the MLCC about not having an outlet in the community. The MLCC forwarded the complaints to Winkler city council and expressed a desire to put a liquor store in the community. "We gave them a letter saying we wouldn't make it into an issue," said Harder.

Winkler does not need a referendum to open a liquor store.

It's another community with a Mennonite history to open its first liquor store in recent years. The first liquor store in Steinbach opened in 2009.

"We have at least six or seven licensed establishments in Winkler," including the Valley Bowling Alley, Harder said.

He said a liquor store is just part of being a growing community. Winkler now has over 11,000 residents and is growing at a rate of five per cent per year.

Harder said the liquor outlet would be in a new strip mall being built across from the Superstore on Highway 32.

Kenton Doerksen, Winkler Chamber of Commerce president, said the store "is a vote of confidence in the community."

"It will definitely keep local traffic from heading down the road. It's not a surprise that a lot of people from Winkler go to Plum Coulee or Morden to buy alcohol," Doerksen said.

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca

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