A Pemberton Heights convenience store has gathered hundreds of signatures from residents in a bid to win permission to serve drinks - a change it says could save the business.
The Corner Store at Lloyd Avenue and West 22nd Street presented its application for a food primary liquor licence at a District of North Vancouver council meeting June 18.
As part of the request, the store submitted a petition signed by approximately 550 patrons backing the plan. The licence is necessary, according to supporters, in order to allow the business to stay open.
"Being located in Pemberton Heights we have a very limited market," said owner Tracey Cochrane, who bought the store in 2006. "We continually struggle to make ends meet."
If the proposal is approved, the store will be permitted to serve beer, wine, cider, and liqueurs to 30 customers seated inside the establishment until 9 p.m.
"We are not looking to become a bar, but again to fulfill a common request from our patrons," Cochrane told council.
The vast majority of The Corner Store's clientele are regulars at the establishment, she said. "We know 90 per cent of the people that we serve."
Despite adding weekend breakfast and brunch options and a host of specialty items, Cochrane said the venture has lost money.
"Each year, I and my partner have contributed funds to keep the store afloat," Cochrane said. "While I pay staff, I have yet to take a paycheque."
If the proposal is rejected, it might be curtains for the endeavour.
"Without the ability to do this, I am afraid the store will not survive," she said.
Several Pemberton Heights residents spoke in support of the plan, referring to the establishment as a "neighbourhood hub" and a "vital community centre."
"I, along with many of our fellow neighbours, am often here before you to speak against something," said Colin Metcalfe, president of the Pemberton Heights Community Association. "Today, I'm pleased to be here to speak in favour of something."
His statement was echoed by Peter Chapman, who praised the store for imbuing the community with a sense of connectedness.
"I'm very happy to go there for coffee in the morning, but in the evening, I'd be just as happy, much happier, to go there for a glass of wine," Chapman said.
The store has been revitalized under Cochrane's stewardship, according to Pemberton Heights resident Doug Sabourin.
"The little corner store we had there (before) was in fact a blight on the landscape," he said.
Speaking at the meeting, Coun. Alan Nixon appeared highly receptive to the proposal.
"In the event that the public hearing goes well, and I hope that it does, quite frankly, (I hope) that we can expedite the second and third readings and adoption," he said.
Nixon noted that charges levied by the municipality have resulted in previous owners struggling to make the store profitable.
"The property taxes on the property are unbelievably high," he said.
The proposal also received support from Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn, who suggested exploring the possibility of allowing the store to serve alcohol until 10 p.m.
"God forbid if we're ever in the finals of the Stanley Cup," he said.
The issue will go to a public hearing July 17. If that event goes well, the licence could be approved as soon as July 23.