KAMLOOPS – Pitting the people who sell wine against those who make it, a public hearing will help Kamloops city council decide if there needs to be a kilometer between liquor vendors.
The debate was started by Tracy Gray who owns Discovery Wines in Kamloops. She contends the city would be hit a “tsunami” of new liquor outlets because of new provincial legislation allowing B.C. wines in grocery stores.
Currently the city doesn't have bylaws regulating the number of liquor stores allowed or the distance between them.
Vicki Collett, a co-owner with Harper’s Trail Winery disagrees with Gray and thinks local wines in grocery stores is just good business.
“For the smaller wineries it opens up those channels of distribution,” she says, explaining this provincial legislation exposes shoppers to brands they might not have found otherwise.
Collett says she can’t understand the opposition from some on council. She points out Harper’s Trail is also a local business and feels it’s unfair to favour one establishment over another.
“I think it’s just a lack of information, speaking out before you have all the facts. It is ridiculous,” she says.
The Kamloops Wineries Association is also against the proposed zoning change.
“Implementing the one kilometre rule effectively blocks wineries from accessing this tremendous opportunity,” Association director Trish Morelli says.
Morelli echoes Collett's comments saying the legislation allowing wine to be sold in grocers is a “historical policy” and there is room for all kinds of liquor vendors.
“We don't want to take anything away from the independents, we just want a bigger piece of the pie,” she says.
Morelli says any attempt to legislate the distance between liquor vendors will effectively keep B.C. wines out of grocery stores.
“Every grocery store is probably one kilometre from some liquor store,” she says.
Councillor Marg Spina’s motion to create a one kilometre buffer between liquor vendors wasn't suppported by counsellors Ken Christian and Dieder Dudy at council's July 14 meeting.
Dudy said liquor vendors were like any other business in the city and would “sink or swim” on their own merits.
Christian attempted to sever the liquor motion from the other zoning bylaws up for public hearing, but his motion was defeated.
The public hearing will be held on Tuesday, July 28 at 7 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall.
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