New liquor licensing laws set to take effect

Local grocers entertaining idea, but no imminent plans for expansion

  • Mar. 25, 2015 12:00 p.m.

Legislation allowing liquor sales in grocery stores kicks in April 1.

Scott Stanfield

Record Staff

As of April 1, B.C. grocers will be allowed to sell alcohol at their premises — one of many recommended liquor rule changes endorsed last year by the provincial government.

Under the policy, private and government liquor stores will be permitted to locate within eligible grocery stores. The latter will be entered into a lottery to ensure fairness.

“It is something that we are actively looking at in all Quality Foods locations,” Comox QF store manager Mike Macmicking said.

Quality Foods in Courtenay — which sits next to a liquor store — has only considered the idea of licensing its upstairs area.

“I just couldn’t see us with the Liquor Plus right next door,” assistant manager Laura Dale said.

Though it doesn’t have definite plans at the moment, Thrifty Foods is excited about the possibility of offering wine, beer and fresh food together.

“We are paying attention to the changes taking place in B.C. legislation regarding the sale of beer, and wine and spirits, and will continue to listen and learn, seeking appropriate opportunities to expand our offering where possible,” said Erin Coulson, Thrifty’s manager of communications. “From our understanding, this entire change within the industry was public/customer driven, as it should be. We will continue to listen to our customers in our decision-making process, as we always have.”

The lottery draw will be held April 1, following an intake period that closes Friday.

The Justice Ministry says there is no cap on the number of stores that will be selected. The total will be based on the number of eligible applications received, and where they want to move. All moves will need to abide by a one kilometre rule that separates stores selling alcohol.

The order that applications are selected in the lottery will determine who gets first dibs at a location. Applicants are allowed to choose one location. If there are multiple applications for the same location, those not approved will be refunded.

After the lottery process is complete, there will still be an option for liquor stores to relocate and move into grocery stores.

Criteria applied to grocers looking to sell alcohol would prevent smaller convenience stores and big box stores from stocking booze.

To be eligible to sell liquor, a grocery store must sell at least 70 per cent food-related products. Once liquor store sales are added, at least half the sales must continue to be food-related.

For more information, visit bit.ly/1N893og

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

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