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Kamloops council gives wine another shot

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KAMLOOPS - A month after denying wine on grocery store shelves, city council has had a change of heart.

Council agreed to reopen the debate on whether wines will be allowed on the shelves of the Sahali Save-On-Foods grocery store.

A vote on May 17 seemed to shut the door on the debate, but the Overwaitea Food Group, which holds the wine licence, appealed council's decision and offered an amended request.

The amendment will allow the store to only sell 100 per cent B.C. VQA certified wines, grocery store manager Neil Alkins told council today, June 14. 

“We’re elated,” Alkins said after council's decision to reopen the debate. “We’re excited for another opportunity.”

Not everyone is excited for the change in council’s direction. Sahali Liquor Store owner Al Deacon's store is one of the closest to the Sahali Save-On-Foods and he has been a vocal opponent.

“We’re disappointed. We thought it was going to go the other way,” he said. “It’s been a tough slug for many of us, and there are some that can’t afford the loss of sharing to another stakeholder.”

He said there will certainly be an impact to local private liquor store businesses if the grocery store is allowed to have wine, but didn’t elaborate on what those impacts would be.

Because the appeal included an amendment the city will have to write a new report and present it to council. The city will then send out public notice and ask for correspondence supporting or opposing it. Council is likely to hold a new debate about allowing wine on grocery store shelves in July, city corporate officer Cindy Kennedy says.

The reconsideration was supported by councillors Tina Lange, Dieter Dudy, Ken Christian and Marg Spina. Lange and Spina had previously voted against allowing wine on grocery store shelves. Councillors Donovan Cavers, Pat Wallace and Denis Walsh held their positions against, while Coun. Arjun Singh and Mayor Peter Milobar declared conflicts of interest and were not in chambers for the discussion or vote.

The wine licence was purchased from Discover Wines, which ran a store in the same complex as the grocery store. When the grocery chain bought the licence they planned to move wine into their nearby store, but a city bylaw restricitng liquor stores within one kilometer of other liquor stores means the grocery store first needs council's approval.

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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