Forced closure of Gleichen, Alta. liquor store raises significant health concerns for alcohol dependent

A decision to order the Gleichen Hotel and Liquor Store to close due to violations has prompted a warning from RCMP to local businesses regarding the sale of potentially intoxicating substances.

The hotel and liquor store are owned by Devindor Toor, the MLA for Calgary-Falconridge. Toor acknowledged he owned the business in his public disclosure statement when he entered office.

According to RCMP, both the hotel and liquor store were ordered closed on Monday following an investigation by Alberta, Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC), health inspectors and the Wheatland Fire Department.

The Alberta Health Services notice of closure indicates the violations found on the premises included mouse droppings, gaps around the building's back entrance door, bird feathers and other debris on cooking equipment, dead flies in light fixtures and unsanitary washrooms.

The closure will remain in place until the business is found to be in compliance.

A note posted on the door to the hotel indicates it is closed 'until further notice' due to 'Fire and Safety Code Violations.'

Toor confirmed to CTV News Tuesday morning that, while he is the owner, his son runs the business.

The temporary removal of the lone liquor store in the hamlet, situated along the Trans-Canada Highway approximately 60 kilometres east of Calgary, could prove devastating for those dependent on alcohol.

"With the closure of this establishment, there are real health concerns for persons with alcohol dependency and substance abuse issues," said Sgt. Scott Mercer of the Gleichen RCMP detachment in a statement released Monday. "Police are requesting responsible business owners in the area to refrain from selling like intoxicating substances such as hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, aerosol etc. without proper judgement. These substances can cause significant health risks if consumed."

The nearest liquor store outside of the hamlet is located in Cluny, roughly 15 kilometres east of Gleichen.

According to Mercer, RCMP will endeavor to work alongside Siksika Health and Addiction Services, which serves the Siksika First Nation that neighbours Gleichen, on any community-based strategy that reduces public harm.

In its 2016 Census of Population, Statistics Canada said the population of Gleichen was 324. The current population of Siksika First Nation exceeds 7,800 members.