Bert Hick

Bert Hick

Council nixes wine on Mission grocery store shelves

Proposed bylaw would prevent stores from getting liquor licence if within one kilometre of an existing liquor outlet.

Consumers will not find any wine on their grocery store shelves – at least not in Mission.

Council has begun the process to create a new bylaw that will prevent grocery stores in the district from taking advantage of the provincial government’s offer to allow wine sales in local markets.

Mission Mayor Randy Hawes asked staff on Monday night to prepare a bylaw that restricts any liquor outlet from being within one kilometre of another.

The move would eliminate all grocery stores in the district from selling alcohol.

“This keeps liquor in the existing retail outlets and liquor is sold in a liquor-only type business,” said Hawes.

In April 2015, the provincial government announced sales of B.C. wine at grocery stores would begin, starting with a Save-On-Foods in Surrey. The new system allows grocery stores to apply to use privately held liquor licences, in order to sell B.C. wine.

Grocery stores are considered to be establishments that predominately sell groceries. The system excludes “super stores,” mixed-use stores like Walmart, and convenience stores.

Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge and North Vancouver all recently voted to create similar bylaws.

The decision by Mission council to create the new bylaw came after a presentation by Bert Hick of Rising Tide Consultants. He was joined by at least 30 employees of existing beer and wine stores who were against allowing grocery stores to sell alcohol.

Hick told council that allowing expanded wines sales will have a major impact on small liquor store owners and create more harm on the social side.

“The more available you make alcohol, the greater the social costs resulting from alcohol,” he said.

“When you think of alcohol access, you think of minors, you think of intoxicated persons, accidents, domestic violence – you have to consider the whole package,” Hick added.

Hick believes the current model of alcohol sales should be maintained and not expanded. He noted there should always be a separation between grocery products and liquor.

“Everyone has to go to the grocery store,” he said, adding having alcohol on the shelf, “next to the pickles,” can create a negative situation.

With liquor stores and cold beer and wine stores, “the only reason to cross the threshold is to buy alcohol,” Hick said.

Hawes said he proposed the new bylaw restrictions because he could not see any benefit to selling wine in grocery stores.

“I know what the deficit is to Mission taxpayers if some of the private liquor stores are forced to close. But I don’t know what benefit there will be.”

Council will vote on the bylaw at a future meeting.