09/09/2013 01:10 EDT | Updated 11/09/2013 05:12 EST

Mac's Convenience Stores Take On LCBO; Promise New Stores If Allowed To Sell Booze

Flickr: DennisSylvesterHurd

TORONTO - Mac's Convenience Stores Inc. is promising to invest $54 million dollars to build 27 new convenience stores in Ontario if it is granted the right to sell alcohol in Ontario.

"(The new stores) will provide some much needed competition to the government monopoly and private sector cartel that currently control alcohol sales in this province," Tom Moher, vice-president of operations of the central Canada division of Mac's, said on Monday.

The chain — owned by Alimentation Couche-Tard (TSX:ATD.B) — made a pitch for selling booze to the Toronto Region Board of Trade on Monday.

Tom Moher said he is becoming more optimistic ever that the Ontario government will allow convenience stores to sell alcohol in the "not-so-distant future."

"The province continues to be open to the dialogue and discussion, so that's very encouraging," Moher told reporters after his speech.

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The new stores would be built in Toronto, Brampton, Grey Bruce County, London, Ottawa, the District Municipality of Muskoka and other locations within two years of allowed to sell alcohol, Moher said.

He estimated the expansion would create up to 170 full-time jobs and each store would cost about $2 million to build.

However, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said in June that the government is not considering the prospect of booze sales in convenience stores.

Wynne's announcement came after Finance Minister Charles Sousa said he wouldn't rule out allowing convenience stores to sell alcohol.

However, Sousa also said there are no plans to change the structure of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario — one of the largest purchasers and retailers of alcohol in the world — which turned over $1.65 billion to the province last year.

The Crown corporation is expanding its reach by setting up what it calls Express outlets inside 10 grocery stores, as well as adding more retail stores, Sousa said.