Vernon politicians aren’t wading into the fight over wine sales in grocery stores.
A majority of council refused Monday to act on a request from the Alliance of Beverage Licensees to only support grocery stores selling B.C. wine if they are one kilometre away from another liquor retail outlet.
“It’s for the provincial government to decide,” said Mayor Akbal Mund.
Under provincial legislation, grocery stores are not subject to the one-kilometre distance rule like liquor stores (some may be closer because their locations were in place before the rules).
The Alliance of Beverage Licensees insists the one-kilometre rule is necessary to protect existing private and public liquor stores.
However, Mund doesn’t believe grocery store sales pose a threat.
“Only two per cent of all alcohol is B.C. wine so it won’t put anyone out of business,” he said.
Coun. Catherine Lord unsuccessfully attempted to have a one-kilometre limit approved, saying the B.C. wine-only rule for grocery stores is the focus of trade challenges from other countries.
“If the challenges are upheld, it won’t just be B.C. wine. It will be all wines,” she said.
Coun. Scott Anderson spoke against Lord’s motion.
“We shouldn’t be in the business of limiting the economy,” he said.
Coun. Dalvir Nahal was disappointed with the actions of most of her colleagues.
“This is about protecting our small businesses. We have 14 liquor stores to think about before we bring in large chains,” she said.
Private liquor stores in Vernon have 165 staff and an annual payroll of $6 million.
“We’re going to create more minimum wage jobs and lose good paying jobs.”