KAMLOOPS - After months of debate, including several hours again today, city council decided wine may be sold in a Kamloops grocery store.
After 14 speakers from the public, hours of debate and weeks of discussion in the public sphere, the final decision came today, July 12, as council voted in favour of allowing wine at the Sahali Save-on-Foods.
Overwaitea Food Group wine director Steve Moriarty thanked council for voting in their favour and is looking forward to getting wines on the chain’s store’s shelves. The food group owns the Save-On-Foods chain.
“Next steps is we’ll want to create a wine store similar to all the ones we have in our existing stores. We’ll start that as soon as we possibly can,” he says.
He expects wine to be on the shelves by early fall. The decision allows only B.C. VQA wine to be sold at the grocery store.
After the decision to deny the application in May, three councillors reversed their previous decision when the application's wording was altered.
Councillors Marg Spina and Tina Lange voted in favour of the motion, changing their vote from the spring debate. Both councillors voted in favour of reconsidering the motion in June as well, giving the debate new life. Both cited the altered wording as a main reason for their change of heart.
Coun. Donovan Cavers voted for the motion as well, after being against the original motion and reconsideration. He explained to the crowded council chambers his concerns about security at the grocery store were settled after he saw security measures in person.
Councillors Ken Christian and Dieter Dudy once again voted in favour.
Coun. Denis Walsh remained against the motion.
“We may live to regret this,” he said during the meeting.
Mayor Peter Milobar and Coun. Arjun Sing were both absent from the vote due to conflicts of interest and Coun. Pat Wallace was absent from council altogether.
The Alliance of Beverage Licensees executive director Jeff Guignard traveled to Kamloops to speak against the motion.
“Obviously we’re disappointed,” he says. “The citizens of Kamloops are clearly in favour of this, so as long as they’re abiding by council's decision to be restricted to 100 per cent VQA wine that’s helpful."
Council received 138 letters of support for the motion, and four against.
Today's debate covered health and security issues, protectionism and international trade agreements. Speakers came from the Okanagan and lower mainland to argue for and against the decision.
Overwaitea bought the licence in November from the Discover Wines store with the intention of moving it to the grocery store, but a city bylaw required council approval of wine on the shelves.
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