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ONTARIO TO TEST SUNDAY LIQUOR SALES

The last vestiges of the cry, "Never On Sunday!" are fading from Ontario's legal landscape, as the province's liquor and beer stores prepare for Sunday sales in August.

The province that once banned almost all commercial and non-church leisure activities from taking place on Sunday, is once again moving to end another prohibition.

For five Sundays in August, the province's liquor and beer stores will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Consumer Minister Dave Tsubouchi announced last week.

The pilot project follows a similar test over the last Christmas season when Sunday sales of spirits were sanctioned. As in those tests, Tsubouchi said, local municipalities can opt for no Sunday openings.

"If this is something a community doesn't want, they just have to let us know," he said. Last December, about 30 of 300 Ontario communities chose to keep the liquor stores closed, he added.

Chris Layton, spokesman for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario said Sunday openings are especially important for areas with a lot of cottagers and border communities like Niagara Falls and Windsor with their heavy U.S. tourist traffic.

This summer's openings, the minister said, would help the government "gauge the public appetite" for further Sunday openings.

"We're just looking at it on a pilot-project basis right now," he said, adding the government might decide the issue by referendum.

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