The provincial government says it will use population size to determine if an area should be given a liquor store permit.

The finalized policy says communities need a minimum population of 500 people to quality for a permit. Additional permits will be available according to the population matrix.

“When the government announced its new retail liquor model in November 2015, we committed to establishing a population-based matrix for allocating additional retail liquor store permits, once the transition to the new expanded private liquor retail model was complete,” Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority Gene Makowsky said in a news release. “This new process will take effect in the coming weeks, once the required regulatory amendments are complete.”

The province says there will be a maximum of 40 liquor store permits available in communities with a population of up to 275,000 people. Therefore, no new permits are currently available in Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Yorkton or North Battleford. Melfort, Martensville, Weyburn and Estevan are eligible for an additional permit, however.

According to the government, the process to allocate additional liquor store permits will only begin if someone expresses an interest in opening a store with permits available. An auction with real-time bidding will be held online and applicants will need to meet all the terms necessary to hold a retail store permit.

“We believe this new process of allocating retail liquor permits strikes a good balance between ensuring the public has adequate access, while also setting limits to the overall number of retail liquor outlets based on the population of the community,” Makowsky said.