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Another round of grocery store wine debate set to go before Kamloops council

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KAMLOOPS - The debate over allowing wine on the shelves of a Kamloops grocery store is back before council today.

Council will vote on whether or not to permit the Sahali Save-On-Foods to sell B.C. wine at today's meeting, May 17. Specifically, council will be voting on making an exception to a bylaw created last year restricting distances between retail stores selling alcohol.

The city has received letters for and against the bylaw variance, with two local vineyards sending letters of support and more than a dozen emails in favour of the move. The owners of Sahali Mall sent a letter against the change, saying they believe the addition of wine in the grocery store will affect jobs at the mall. A single email from a resident was included in the opposition, expressing concerns the grocery store will drive competitors out of business.

Save-On-Foods spokesperson Julie Dickson says wineries are planning to speak at the meeting today, along with the director of wine for Save-On-Foods.

City development manager Rod Martin says if the variance is approved the grocery store needs to get a business licence amendment before selling wine, noting the store needs to meet provincial regulations as well as the city ones.

Dickson says the store met provincial standards before purchasing the licence from nearby Discover Wines last year.

The city passed a bylaw not allowing new liquor licences within one kilometre of another liquor store last year and Save-On-Foods shares a parking lot with a B.C. Liquor Store and is also under one kilometre away from private liquor stores at Sahali Mall and the intersection of McGill Road and University Drive.

“It never occurred to us that we wouldn’t be able to move the licence,” she says. “Certainly it’s a priority to get wine on the shelves as soon as possible.”

Dickson says it normally takes a couple weeks to get wine on the shelves once the paperwork is done, but she expects it to be expedited at the Sahali store.

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