B.C. government eyes liquor sales in grocery stores
Many British Columbians would like to be able to buy booze at the grocery store.
That's one of the most popular ideas under consideration by the B.C. Liquor Policy Review, which is accepting input until November 1. So, the provincial government has announced it will examine ways to allow grocery stores to sell liquor.
"I've heard strong support for liquor sales in grocery stores and the added convenience it would afford B.C. families. There's no doubt this would be a big shift in our province - so we will be taking a thoughtful approach and carefully considering which model could work best for B.C., while taking into account all the concerns we've heard about the dangers of increased access to minors. We must also balance health and public safety with any improvement to convenience, should we proceed in this direction," John Yap, parliamentary secretary for liquor policy reform, said in a news release issued today (October 29).
Yap, who is leading the review of B.C.'s liquor laws, is expected to file his final report on November 25.
Other topics provoking discussion during the review include permitting craft beer and wine sales at farmers markets, streamlining the application process for special occasion licences, and allowing parents to take their kids with them to pubs and legions.
Today's news release describes some ways the province could implement liquor sales in grocery stores. "Several other Canadian provinces have models that B.C. will consider. For example, in Quebec, grocery stores can sell domestic and imported beer, as well as Quebec-bottled wine. Other models include Nova Scotia, where provincial liquor authorities have opened government liquor stores within grocery stores - a so- called 'store within a store'. In Ontario, some Ontario wineries are allowed to sell their wine either in freestanding stores or a store within a grocery store or other host retailer," the release states.
"To balance some concerns heard from health and safety advocates about the number of retail outlets, consideration also will be given to maintaining the current cap on the overall number of retail liquor outlets. This could mean allowing current Licensee Retail Stores (LRS) and/or Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) stores to operate within grocery stores."
B.C. already has 221 rural agency stores, which are grocery stores that are allowed to sell liquor because they serve communities without a B.C. Liquor Store or private liquor store.