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Barry's Bay, Ont. Beer Store to close June 16

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The Beer Store in Barry's Bay, a crucial business to the small town in the Ottawa Valley, is set to close June 16.

The store currently leases its location on Opeongo Line in Barry's Bay, with Olsheski Holdings Inc. owning the building.

Joseph Olsheski, who is also a councillor for the township, says the Beer Store suddenly decided not to renew its lease, and provided no reasons why.

"It's very frustrating," Olsheski told CTV News, adding that he hasn't heard from the Beer Store since December.

"I'd say it goes against corporate professionalism. They should at least have the courtesy to communicate back and forth with us."

Just last week, the Ford government announced it was expediting its plan to allow alcohol sales in convenience stores in Ontario.

"I don't know for a fact, but I am assuming that is the case, yes, why the decision was made." 

Madawaska Valley Mayor Mark Willmer says he feels the Beer Store pulled the rug out from underneath the town in making the decision to close.

"Something inside me sort of says the Beer Store already made up their mind. If they weren't happy with the lease, they could look at other locations within the township. And I'm not sure that they did."

In a statement, the Beer Store said, "We regret that this store closure is sudden, but due to circumstances beyond our control, we must close this location."

There is now concern for the small town's economy, which relies heavily on tourism. Many in town say the Beer Store is a draw for cottagers and campers heading to Algonquin Park, and a stop in at the Beer Store also means a stop at a local grocery store or restaurant.

"Without the Beer Store here, people will be stopping in other towns along the way, such as Bancroft or Peterborough, or Eganville, which is going to affect our community," says Olsheski.

"Without it, I don't know. Will people now stop and in Eganville and bypass Barry's Bay?" adds Willmer.

The two closest Beer Store locations to Barry's Bay are located in Eganville and Bancroft, which are 51 km and 72 km away from the town, respectively.

More than 1,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the location to stay open

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