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Sale of former Sask. government liquor store buildings begins

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The sale has started of former Saskatchewan government liquor store buildings. The province got out of liquor retailing earlier this month and is disposing of all assets. Now, the NDP opposition is concerned that the Regina Warehouse could be the next to close, an allegation that the government denies.

The last of 34 locations across Saskatchewan closed two weeks ago and now the government is finalizing deals on five former liquor store buildings.

“Actually we have seven on the market right now and five have firm offers so there’s just two outstanding there,” said Lori Carr, minister of liquor and gaming.

The government owned 19 of the 34 store buildings. The remainder were leased. Most of the rural locations for sale are listed through real estate agents for about $350,000 apiece.

Carr said they have five other stores they are going to be putting up soon.

This week, the government also introduced legislation to split casino operations from its remaining liquor wholesale division. The NDP worry that the massive central liquor warehouse at Regina’s GTH could be the next to go.

“Again, when they start shifting things around, removing the L from the SGA, people are going to be concerned,” said NDP MLA Nathaniel Teed.

The government says it has no plan to turn over liquor wholesaling to the private sector.

“I anticipated that question but there is no intention of a sell off. There is no intention to divest or making changes to that,” said Don Morgan, minister of Crown Investments.

Also on the auction block are about six liquor store permits but the government says none are associated with former SLGA stores. Apparently several owners of private liquor off sales are hoping to cash in their permits which now have a market value of about $1.5 million apiece.

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