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Wine licence may leave Kamloops after council decision

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May 25, 2016 - 7:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - The owners of a Sahali grocery store may look to take their wine licence elsewhere after city council rejected a variance request last week.

Overwaitea Food Group, the owners of the licence and Save-On-Foods grocery stores, may move the licence out of the city, the company’s director of wine, Steve Moriarty, says.

He notes the company intended to use the licence in Kamloops, but may look to recover the value somewhere else in the province after council rejected the company’s application to allow wine to be sold at their Sahali Save-On-Foods.

“We’re still sitting here reviewing what we can do, what we can’t do,” he says. “We’re disappointed, but respect the city’s rights to enforce the bylaw.”

While he can’t say they’re looking to sell the licence, Moriarty finds it hard to believe council would approve another company’s attempt after the rejection of the Save-On-Foods application.

“Why would the City of Kamloops give (permission) to another retailer?” he says.

He says while the company respects council's decision, it doesn’t give the grocery chain any wiggle room to find other options in Kamloops. The grocery chain has about 100 stores in B.C. he says, and many would be able to handle wine sales.

The fight for wine in the Sahali Save-On-Foods isn’t over though. Harper’s Trail Winery has started a petition asking council to revisit their decision. Moriarty says the Kamloops wineries are fighting for their businesses, but the grocery chain hasn’t got any official processes of their own in the works to change the decision.

“It’s heartbreaking for the local wineries,” he says. “They’ve lost an opportunity to showcase their wines. We wish them all the luck.”

City council voted five to two against allowing the licence within one kilometre of another liquor retail licence last week. At the council meeting supporters of the application argued it was not a new licence, because it was bought from Discover Wines, which is within the same shopping complex as the Sahali Save-On-Foods, and therefore should be allowed. They also said the loss of the licence, which was specific to B.C. wines, would negatively impact local wineries. Opponents said the licence at the grocery store would impact local jobs at liquor stores and brought up concerns about public safety and security. City council previously reversed a vote about the one-kilometre bylaw in 2015.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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