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Penticton councillors change their position on wine in grocery stores

Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said he didn't believe arguments the area's wine industry would suffer if the city allowed VQA wine sales in grocery stores at the Monday, March 7, 2016 council meeting.
March 08, 2016 - 7:00 PM

PENTICTON - After a change of heart in council chambers last night wine will now be allowed to be sold in Penticton grocery stores.

At the Feb.15 meeting, council asked staff to look further into the issue surrounding wine sales in grocery stores after a 6-1 vote in favour of including a one-kilometre restriction between liquor retailers, which would have prevented wine sales in the city’s grocery stores.

Staff recommendations at last night’s meeting, March 7, included amending the definition of ‘retail store’ to remove a reference to grocery store and add a definition for ‘grocery store’ to include the sale of 100 per cent B.C. wine on an on-the-shelf model and liquor in a store-within-a-store model.

Staff also recommended abandoning the one-kilometre rule previously carried by council.

Council debate centred around the consumer’s desire for liquor purchasing convenience versus possible ill-effects the move might have on local wineries. Several councillors also felt Penticton, being the centre of B.C. wine production, had a special role to play in promoting wine sales which don't fit in with the provincial model.

Coun. Tarik Sayeed chastised staff for their recommendation Monday.

“First of all, Mr. Hall, I’m very disappointed by this report, and by staff recommendation, especially when we have given clear and concise direction as to what we wanted in the previous council meeting,” Sayeed said, questioning where staff sourced their information.

Director of Development Services manager Jules Hall said his sources came from previous delegations, including correspondence received by council.

Coun. Judy Sentes said she reflected on previous presenters to council on the subject, adding she has not been lobbied by the citizens of Penticton of the need for wine sales in grocery stores.

“I have a great fear of the loss of our VQA store, which I think is stellar in the province. Tourists don’t come here to buy wine in grocery stores, they come to tour our boutique wineries. Those smaller ones could be at risk. Penticton is unique. We aren’t typical of the province,” she said.

Other councillors felt without allowing wine sales in grocery stores, Penticton wouldn’t be 'moving forward' with the rest of the province.

Coun. Max  Picton called the legislation a 'matter of convenience' and said Penticton will not be offering the same convenience to tourists looking for a bottle of wine as other B.C. communities if grocery stores are not allowed to sell it.

He said at the end of the day, Penticton would look like the city not moving forward if council tried to resist it.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said he didn’t buy the 'doom and gloom' idea that sale of wine in grocery stores was going to negatively impact the industry.

“Certainly if I’m coming off the beach, and it’s eight o’clock at night, some of the wineries are already closed, the VQA store might not be open, I might not be in that part of town, but I’m in getting something to eat, I can get a nice bottle of wine,” Jakubeit said, adding it wasn’t only more convenient, it also provided Penticton’s wineries with another outlet for sales.

Coun. Andre Martin noted only seven of 20 Penticton wineries lobbied council for the one-kilometre restriction. He said he believed the majority of local wineries weren’t asking for it.

“We’re limiting ourselves. I see it as protectionism,” he said.

In the end council agreed, by a 4-3 vote, with the staff recommendaiton to allow wine in Penticton grocery stores.

The amendments will be presented for public input at a hearing expected before the March 21 council meeting.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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