June 03, 2015 - 2:25 PM
KAMLOOPS – Should there be restrictions on how close alcohol retailers can be to each other? That was the question up for debate at city council this week.
Coun. Marg Spina asked her fellow councillors to consider putting distance parameters in place for new liquor licenses.
Spina asked the city change the zoning bylaw to create a one-kilometer buffer between liquor vendors. She says the changes are because alcohol needs regulating and to protect local businesses.
Spina's timing of the request is in part due to new provincial legislation regarding private beer and wines stores and auctioned grocery store B.C. wine licenses, a special license for B.C. specific wines and ciders to be sold at grocery stores. Spina believed the new legislation would bring a deluge of new outlets to Kamloops, a region without bylaws regarding the saturation of liquor stores.
Councillors Dieter Dudy and Ken Christian did not agree with the motion. Both believe a liquor store is a business like any other and will sink or swim as the market dictated.
Dudy said those who shop at local stores supplying regional wines would continue to do so because they value the store’s expertise. Whether wine is sold at the grocery store or not will not have any bearing on existing businesses.
Ultimately, councillors sided with Arjun Singh who said clusters of liquor stores gave him an ‘icky’ feeling. Singh said how we plan a community is important and will never want to see anything like a ‘liquor mall’ in Kamloops.
Coun. Dennis Walsh echoed this sentiment saying liquor and gambling are simply different animals. Alcohol is not any other business and should continue to be regulated.
Mayor Peter Milobar abstained due to conflict of interest and the motion was carried six to two, with only Dudy and Christian voting against.
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