TORONTO „Ÿ Wine and beer bottles are finally going to hit Ontario grocery store shelves, but not until the end of this year.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced Tuesday that the first LCBO Express stores will appear in large grocery retailers by the end of 2014.
"This pilot will begin with 10 stores and we expect to have these up and running within a year," he told a press conference at the LCBO's Summerhill location.
The Liberal government first mentioned the pilot project in January 2013. A month prior, PC Leader Tim Hudak argued the alcohol market should be more open, with sales permitted in corner stores.
Requests for proposals were officially launched Tuesday "for large retailers to host these new stores," Sousa said.
Proposals for Express stores in Ottawa, Mississauga, London, Niagara and parts of Toronto will be accepted until May 9.
Interested stores "need to provide at least 2,000 square feet of space for the LCBO express store within that grocery store," Sousa said.
The Express stores will be placed where LCBO stores aren't nearby. They will be subject to LCBO store hours and staffed by LCBO employees.
When asked why it took so long to introduce 10 pilot stores, Sousa said the LCBO has already made "tremendous" investments to increase access.