Vernon council asked to put a cork in grocery store wine sales - InfoNews

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Vernon council asked to put a cork in grocery store wine sales

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August 16, 2016 - 1:00 PM

VERNON - Local liquor retailers want Vernon council to keep grocery store wine sales at bay.

The Alliance of Beverage Licensees, which represents Kalamalka Wine and Spirits, Monashee’s Bar and Grill and Kal Sports Bar, has asked Vernon council to restrict the number of liquor retailers by imposing a one kilometre rule between outlets.

The alliance’s spokesperson Jeff Guignard says private liquor stores are already subject to the one kilometre rule, and his group believes new licenses for wine in grocery stores should be too.

“Our concern is that competition is being allowed to operate under a different set of rules than we are,” Guignard says, adding there are also concerns about minors accessing alcohol.

Roughly 165 full and part-time employees work in the Vernon liquor retail industry, Guignard says. He also points out the city already has a slightly above average number of liquor stores compared to the rest of the province. 

According to economic development planner Craig Broderick, the city has not yet received any formal applications from local grocery stores wanting to sell wine. In Kelowna, three grocery stores were granted B.C. VQA liquor sale licenses and have applied to stock wine on their store shelves. Meanwhile in Kamloops, council implemented a one kilometre rule in 2015, but recently granted the local Save-On-Foods a variance which allows it to sell wine after months of debate.

“We do get the occasional calls from consultants,” Broderick says.

The new licenses being auctioned off by the province are for B.C. wine only, and do not allow beer or spirits to be sold in grocery stores.

Council is expected to discuss the one kilometre request at its next meeting, Sept. 12. At least one councillor says she supports the idea of wine in grocery stores and wants locals to have options.

“It would be of interest to ask our residents how they feel,” Coun. Juliette Cunningham says. “When you travel the world you can go to any grocery store and buy all types of spirits, not just wine. It really does make sense to me as a consumer.”

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