PENTICTON - A grocery chain is hoping to start selling wine in Penticton but will have to wait for council to make a decision on a 'one kilometre' rule first.
Overwaitea Food Group Director Steve Moriarty was before council to discuss the possibility of wine sales in the company’s Penticton Save-On-Foods store at Cherry Lane Mall during yesterday's council meeting, Jan. 12.
Currently four stores in the grocery chain, all in the Lower Mainland, sell wine and in the next three months two will open in Kelowna, one in Maple Ridge and one in North Vancouver, Moriarty told council. Moriarty said the company hopes to have wine in their Penticton store by the end of the year as well.
“Our plan is to install in this store the same offering, the same layout as what we have in most of the stores we have,” he said, describing a floor space of between 1,150 to 1,200 square feet with capacity for 1,400 different labels representing 160 B.C. wineries.
Moriarty, who is responsible for the successful implementation of wine sales in Overwaitea’s grocery stores throughout B.C., said the company’s customers support the sale of B.C. wine in their grocery stores. They have no interest is selling spirits or beer, but plan to focus on a selection of some 900 B.C. wines.
“Most of these wines are not sold in any private or government liquor stores,” he said, adding customers won’t find, "bargain basement wines, entry-level blowout sales, under $10 wine, or any other cheaply priced intoxicants."
He said it is the chain’s intention to sell wine that complements the culinary experience created when paired with other locally sourced foods the company offers.
“We have no intention of changing or morphing, or developing into a liquor store,” he said.
The license Overwaitea Food Group would use to sell wine would be a 'farm producing British Columbia wine license,' he said, which will provide 'a direct link with customers to the winery industry throughout B.C.'
Moriarty said the company would like to expand the wine business into as many communities as possible, but the number of licences currently available to all B.C. grocery stores is currently limited to 21.
Moriarty also noted of the four stores in the company’s chain selling wine, nearby private liquor stores have been able to continue their trade without any financial impact.
Council heard from local private liquor stores regarding the pitfalls of wine sales in grocery stores on Sept. 8, 2015, and at that time council asked staff to collect and summarize information on the subject for a report due back to council sometime in February.
Council will then debate the merits of the necessity of a bylaw to limit the licensing of grocery stores in the city within one kilometre of a retail liquor outlet.
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