In an inspiring display of community organizing and activism, the people of Orono have persuaded the provincial government to reopen their public LCBO store, just a month after it was closed.
“Orono may be small, but they’ve sent a big message to all of Ontario: when you come together as a community, you can win,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
“It’s worth fighting for quality public services in towns and villages like Orono because they’re the heart and soul of this province,” said Thomas. “I couldn’t be more impressed by the people here, or of our OPSEU members, for what they’ve accomplished together.”
“This is a huge win,” said Tracy Vyfschaft, an LCBO employee and Executive Board Member of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). “Orono has had some setbacks. Its grocery store closed a couple of years ago and the closing of its bank was recently announced.
“So when we started spreading the word that the LCBO was being closed, people in Orono got on the phone with their politicians and said they weren’t going to lose any more services. It worked!”
Vyfschaft says when it was confirmed late last fall that the store was slated for closure, it didn’t make sense since the store was profitable. So she and mobilizers from the OPSEU public services campaign We Own It promoted and staged a rally in the community on Dec. 9.
“The rally was very well attended,” said Vyfschaft. “I suggested to everybody they call their politicians and demand that they keep their LCBO. A lot of them did just that.”
Municipal councillors and the local MPP were inundated with calls and complaints.
On April 12, less than a week after the LCBO sign had been taken down, it was announced the sign would be put back up and the store would reopen on April 30. The reopening could mean the hiring of a new full-time employee.