Work on the old Kinsmen Centre, soon to be the new home of Hammy’s Spirits, continues. Photo by Emily Jaycox

Work well underway transforming former Kinsmen Centre to new Hammy’s Spirits

Update on construction, background on sale, Hammy’s Spirits

Despite a few setbacks, the reconstruction of the former Kinsmen Centre, intended to be the new home of Hammy’s Spirits Inc., should be complete near the end of October to the middle of November.

Construction underway

The building has undergone some extensive changes with the removal of asbestos and replacing the roof.

The discovery of a phone line running through the property caused a delay, as owner Jim Hamilton worked with the telecommunications company to resolve the situation. Ultimately it was decided to do the work around the phone line.

The sewer line tying into the building, which was 60 years old, was also replaced as a preemptive measure. A small section of the road had to be excavated to get to the sewer line.

The construction company working on the building got the go-ahead from town administration to complete the roadwork on June 26, the Wednesday before the Ponoka Stampede Parade.

Hamilton says that doing the work before the parade was not his choice or direction, as he didn’t want there to be any possibility of an issue with the parade, which travels down the road in front of the IGA, and apologized to council for the ill-timing during the public forum portion of council’s regular meeting on July 9.

As it happened, the work was complete by 7 p.m. the same evening. Nevertheless, Hamilton said, “It was a risk that never should have been taken,” as the work could have waited.

The impacted section of road has been covered in cold mix and will be properly paved at a later date, after other repair work is completed,and will likely be done in coordination with the paving of the parking lot. Hamilton expects it will be done before the onset of winter.

The sale of the Kinsmen Centre

Ponoka town council first approved the sale of the Kinsmen Centre for $510,000 in March, 2019.

READ MORE: Council approves sale of Kinsmen Centre

That sale agreement was later terminated, however, to allow for the sale of the Kinsmen Centre building and associated land to Hammy’s Spirits Inc. and the remainder of the parking lot to Cash Foods Ltd.

One reason the sale needed to be separate is, since 2002, under the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Act, a liquor store licence will not be issued to an applicant unless the business is separate from any other business.

Town council voted to approve the sale during its regular meeting May 14.

READ MORE: Kinsmen Centre sale

Hammy’s Spirits obtained a development permit from the Town of Ponoka on July 4, 2019, and has submitted that with its liquor licence application to the provincial government and is awaiting approval.

A new liquor licence is required when a liquor store moves its location.

Hamilton purchased the centre with expanding Hammy’s Spirits in mind and has no other plans for the property. In the unlikely event that the liquor licence is not approved, he will appeal the decision.

The new building will be three times the size of the current location, which is just beside the Hamilton’s IGA.

With the larger space, the store will be able to expand the range of products it offers.

“I just think there is a need,” said Hamilton.

“I can offer more varieties of wines and more varieties of craft beers.”

The new location will feature 1,000 kinds of wine, up from the currently available 350, and 400 to 500 different types of craft beers, of which Hammy’s Spirits currently carries just 30 to 40 kinds.

Hamilton doesn’t anticipate any problems with the application, as moving the liquor store to the new location would actually comply with current legislation that prohibits grocery stores to be attached to liquor stores.

Since March, 2011, a retail liquor store must be physically separate and detached, with a minimum of five metres of separation from other businesses under Schedule 2 of the Gaming and Liquor Regulation.

Hammy’s Spirits opened in 2003 before that legislation passed so it isn’t required to move, but Hamilton believes the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission should be “happy” to approve the licence, allowing the store to move into the new location.

Background on Hammy’s Spirits

After a fire in the supermarket in 1999, Hammy’s Spirits was built in 2001 and opened in 2003. It took a year-and-a-half to get the proper liquor licensing in order, says Hamilton.

According to the 1999 annual Fire Losses in Canada report, which can be found at, the 1999 supermarket fire was on Oct. 30 and cost $4,714, 283 in damages and was determined to be caused by vandalism.

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