Council abstains from regulating liquor outlets

Council majority has no thirst to follow in Kamloops' footsteps in adopting one-kilometre distance rule.

Sicamous council has opted against a bylaw to prohibit a proliferation of liquor vendors downtown.

Last Monday, council discussed a letter from Brothers Pub and Liquor Store owner Richard Chmilar in which he expresses his concerns around the B.C. government’s recent overhaul of the province’s liquor laws – in particular, the decision to allow wine sales from grocery stores.

Chmilar explains an analysis by the Alliance of Beverage Licensees (of which he is a member), shows where wine is allowed to be sold in grocery stores, those sales represent 65 to 79 per cent of all wine sold in that jurisdiction. As a result, he says small distributors are squeezed out of the market.

With the passing in B.C. of Bill 22 – Special Wine Store Licence Auction Act, the province is now able to auction a limited number of licences for the sale of B.C. wine in grocery stores.

“These licences are not subject to the one-kilometre distance rule, meaning Sicamous could have a shopping mall with a private liquor store right next door to a grocery store with a large selection of wine,” says Chmilar. “A high density of alcohol retailers can pose serious social consequences and will present significant concerns for the future of B.C.’s private retailers.”

Chmilar notes the City of Kamloops recently approved a bylaw to institute a one-kilometre distance rule for all future liquor licences and stores, including licences grocery stores. He encouraged Sicamous council to do the same.

Coun. Jeff Mallmes was agreeable to this, stating there are already three liquor stores in close vicinity downtown.

“The last thing we need is one in the mall over there, one in the grocery store. I think we have enough,” said Mallmes.

Coun. Colleen Anderson asked that an exception be made for wine, noting it would be convenient for grocery stores to carry wine in a tourist town. Mallmes’ motion, however, involved establishing a one-kilometre distance for vendors of beer, wine and spirits, arguing “wine will just be the door that opens and then sooner or later the other ones will follow.”

Only Coun. Janna Simons and Mallmes supported the motion, defeated by Couns. Anderson, Todd Kyllo and deputy mayor Malcolm Makayev. (Mayor Terry Rysz was absent.)