KAMLOOPS – Provincial legislation recently was put in place to allow B.C. wines to be sold in grocery stores and after a lack of support for a motion to limit the sale of wine by Coun. Marg Spina Kamloops grocers will get to have that opportunity as well.
Spina asked to create a one-kilometre buffer between liquor vendors in Kamloops. This distance legislation would effectively block wine in grocery stores altogether.
A public hearing was held last night, July 28, to get input before council decided the fate of the motion. Council chambers were packed with people wanting to speak for and against the motion.
Those in favour of the motion believe the new provincial legislation creates an unfair playing field. The large retailers will have access to more varieties of wine, while smaller liquor vendors only have access those supplied by the B.C. Vintners Quality Alliance.
Larry Gray of Discover Wines, whose wife and business partner Tracy brought the issue to Spina originally, compared the legislation to building two McDonald’s franchises beside each other and telling one it’s not allowed to sell Big Macs.
“The only way I can compete is by providing better customer service,” Gray said.
He believed the provincial government has thoroughly overstepped its bounds and asked council to vote in support of small businesses.
Those against the motion believe by allowing wine in grocery stores, consumers will have greater access to a wider variety of local wines; especially from small wineries.
“This is an opportunity to grow the pie for everyone,” Miles Prodan of the B.C. Wine Institute said, adding this legislation was ultimately about the consumer and the residents of B.C. had already told the province they were in favour.
“The city is getting in the way of what people want,” Prodan said.
The motion to impose a limit was defeated, with council split evenly.
Councillors in support of the motion: Spina, Donovan Cavers, Tina Lange and Denis Walsh
Councillors not in support of the motion: Ken Christian, Dieter Dudy, Arjun Singh and Pat Wallace
Mayor Peter Milobar, who owns a liquor store, did not take part in the discussion or vote.
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