September 12, 2015 - 1:05 PM
PENTICTON - Local liquor and wine purveyors reacted to potential changes to the province’s liquor licensing laws by paying Penticton city council a visit.
Lee Keller of Cherry Lane Liquor Store appeared before council at council's regular meeting, Sept. 8, to request council pass a bylaw stating any new liquor license, including wine in grocery stores comply with the B.C. Liquor Control Licensing Branch's “one kilometre rule.”
Keller said new legislation allows B.C. wine into grocery stores and offers 21 licenses province wide without the one kilometre rule. He fears once wine is introduced, craft beer and craft spirits would follow, turning grocery stores into liquor stores.
A business with a VQA license can only sell VQA wines and the new licenses are for B.C. wines, which go beyond VQA, he said. The concern is once they go beyond VQA, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades kick in.
"California can come in. Argentina can come in and more,” he said.
Keller fears the new legislation could ultimately result in Penticton gaining five or six new liquor stores through grocery outlets, arguing the city would lose small retail family business as a result. The consequences of losing private retail liquor stores in Penticton would be compounded because local wineries would lose a number of retail outlets for their wines, he said.
Cannery Brewing co-owner Ron Dyck suggested council could take control of the issue within the city by enacting a bylaw.
“It’s a very complex issue,” he said. “My point to council was they should not relinquish their control over the right to issue liquor licenses. He said Kamloops, Vancouver and Maple Ridge have all passed bylaws to limit liquor permits within their cities.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit suggested a meeting between council, staff and representatives from private liquor outlets, and craft beer and spirits operations to talk further.
“We are dealing with a boutique industry, and we have to be mindful of that,” Jakubeit said.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015