With the clock ticking on the closure of SLGA stores in the province, including Humboldt’s, the provincial government is setting up for the next steps in the private marketplace. An auction to disperse the liquor sales permits will begin on February 6. The auctions will be staggered with the final ones beginning February 15. 

"This is the next step in the process as we transition to a fully private liquor retail system," Minister Responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority Lori Carr said. "An online auction format is being used to ensure that permits are sold efficiently and transparently."

McDougall Auctions has been contracted for the sales that will happen in real time. All bidders are required to pay a $5000 deposit to take part. Deposits received from unsuccessful bidders will be returned.  A government release notes that the sale pertains to the sales permits only and not for the buildings, inventory or equipment. Winning bidders are required to comply with regulations pertaining to holding a retail liquor sales permit. The sale for the Humboldt permit will take place from February 14-25. 

The NDP reiterated its concern over the closures of the stores and the impact the loss of revenue and jobs would have. Official Opposition Nathaniel Teed, in a released statement, addressed the impending closures.

“I  think a lot of people are asking themselves — ‘is this what I voted for?’ Nobody asked for the Sask. Party to sell off profitable liquor stores that pay for our hospitals and schools or to lay off 400 workers in the middle of an affordability crisis. With this important stream of revenue lost, I fear the Sask. Party government will continue to increase taxes and hike power and energy bills again just to pay for their bad financial decisions.”

Despite the Opposition’s reservations, the process continues. The government notes that once the auctions associated with SLGA Retail Inc. permits wrap up, auctions will be held for communities that qualify for an additional permit under SLGA's population matrix, if someone has expressed interest in the permit. These auctions were suspended during the pandemic.