Monday, October 27, 2014

Changes in provincial liquor licensing still a concern for some on Council

BC Liquor store with Safeway
in the background 
The recent changes in the British Columbia Liquor Policy Review, which will soon see the sale of beer, spirits and wine in some grocery stores is still an ongoing concern for some on Prince Rupert Council.

The topic received a short review last week at the City Council session, raised by Councillor Joy Thorkelson who was concerned about the possibility of the two main grocery stores in the city one day stocking their shelves with alcohol product.

Councillor Cunningham offered up his interpretation of the changes, suggesting that for the moment the regulations would seem to indicate that as there are currently stores selling alcoholic products within a set zone in close proximity to the stores, the likelihood of the local grocery stores taking advantage of the new rules would not seem to be possible.

More background on those provisions can be found from this media release from the Provincial Government, which outlines the key terms of reference for the new framework, included in that review:

In order to be eligible, grocery stores will need to have approximately 75% of their sales coming from food products and must be a minimum of 10,000 square feet. 

Grocery stores will have the opportunity to co-brand with liquor stores - regardless of whether the liquor store is physically in the grocery store - and there will be no minimum size requirement for liquor retail stores set up within grocery stores.

Excluding general merchandise and convenience stores from the grocery definition - while maintaining the current moratorium on the number of private liquor stores and the one kilometre rule

Councillor Cunningham did suggest that it was something that the City should keep an eye on, as he doesn't want to see any changes that would impact on the local Beer, Wine and Spirit Stores.

Councillor Thorkelson seemed less than convinced of Councillor Cunningham's overview, and observed that even if it is the case, there is still a concern over the portability of licences.

That is a process which in recent years has delivered new outlets to areas of the City not previously served by Beer, Wine and Spirit stores.

Towards that theme, this fact sheet from the BC government, suggests that there is a possible scenario where at grocery store could purchase a Licensee Retail Store and relocate it as part of the larger Grocery store building.

For the most part the issue at Council was mainly a discussion between Councillors Thorkelson and Cunningham,  with occasional observation from the Mayor.  The other four members on Council offered no opinions on the topic.

The full exchange of thoughts on the liquor sale question can be examined from the City's Video Archive, starting at the 1 hour, forty nine minute mark and continuing on to the 1 hour, fifty three minute mark .

For more information on the range of discussion at Prince Rupert City Council see our archive page here.

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