Council votes against wine ban in Mission grocery stores

Proposed zoning amendment defeated after new information emerges.

The sale of B.C. wines could be coming to a grocery store near you.

On Monday, Mission council voted against a proposed zoning bylaw amendment – which they had staff create three weeks ago – that would have prevented large grocery outlets from selling locally made wine.

The amendment – which was suggested by council after hearing from a delegation against the sale of wine in grocery stores – would have restricted any liquor outlet from being within one kilometre of another. If approved, the move would eliminate all grocery stores in the district from selling alcohol.

On Monday, council abandoned that bylaw after new information came to light.

Mayor Randy Hawes said when the motion for the bylaw was made, council was not aware that Save-On-Foods in the Junction Mall had already applied for and received a change to the business licence that allowed them to sell wine.

Because of that, the store would have a legal non-conforming use that allows it to sell wine.

Hawes said passing the bylaw would create an “unlevel playing field” where the two other stores that might qualify to sell B.C. wines would be precluded from doing so.

However, Hawes recommended that another bylaw change be proposed to prevent the future sale of  beer and spirits at grocery stores, in case the provincial government eventually alters the liquor laws again.

Most of council did not agree.

Coun. Pam Alexis, who was not at the last council meeting when the original bylaw change was suggested, said she was against Hawes’ proposal.

“We were elected to serve the citizens of Mission and not special-interest groups who have the power to dictate the shopping habits of our people,” said Alexis in regard to the delegation that spoke at council.

Coun. Jim Hinds supported Hawes’ suggestion, saying small private beer and wine stores will suffer if grocery chains are allowed to sell more types of alcohol.

“They are going to put out of work, 50 or 60 people in our community alone, not counting what’s going to happen right around the province, and we’re going to make a pile of billionaires a little richer. It’s not going to help our people in any shape or form.”

Coun. Danny Plecas said after reviewing all the information, he feels council was “hasty” to move forward with the restrictions and would not vote in favour of the bylaw change.

Council eventually voted to abandon both bylaw changes.