Liquor Coming to Vancouver Grocery Stores Soon

Qualifying grocery stores may be able to apply to be a “Grocery Store with Liquor Store,” as early as May 14.

April 19, 2018

By Becca Clarkson / Photo: Scott Warman (Unsplash)

Vancouver is on course to become the first city in B.C. where liquor stores and grocery stores can operate under the same roof.

Qualifying grocery stores may be able to apply to be a “Grocery Store with Liquor Store,” as early as May 14 following Tuesday’s public hearing, where city councillors unanimously approved the necessary zoning bylaw amendments.

According to Kathryn Holm, the city’s chief licensing inspector, there are at least 11 communities in the province that chose to sell alcohol in grocery stores through a wine-on-shelves model that requires the content to be 100 percent B.C. grapes. “They’re just a few steps ahead of us—they decided what option they’d like to take, made changes to their bylaws and amendments to their guidelines, etcetera.,” said Holm of the communities adopting the wine-on-shelves model.

But City staff recommended Vancouver follow the other model offered by the Province of B.C.—a store-within-a-store model that would require separate cashiers for a liquor store within a grocery store that’s at least 10,000 square feet.

Council accepted these staff recommendations last year in June, and the public hearing on April 17, 2018 was a required procedural step that every definitional change to bylaws require.

City staff recommended Vancouver follow the other model offered by the Province of B.C.—a store-within-a-store model that would require separate cashiers for a liquor store within a grocery store that’s at least 10,000 square feet.

”Over the last few years, we have undertaken extensive public and stakeholder consultation regarding updates to the City’s liquor policies,” said Kaye Krishna, the City’s general manager of development, buildings and licensing in a news release. “These amendments not only balance the public’s request, but also bring our liquor bylaws in line with provincial regulations.”

A final report of additional guidelines and requirements for liquor stores within grocery stores will be presented at a formal council meeting in early May.

As to when Vancouverites will see the inaugeral grocery store with a liquor store, Holms said it depends on the number of applicants. “We’ll have a better idea of how much interest there is, and as with many of our applications, they’re all unique,” Holms said. “The degree to which we have questions or need to work with the applicant will determine how long it takes to complete the process.”

Representatives from Vancouver Coastal Health were present at last June’s meeting to counsel council members on items included in the liquor policy review. Both of them, Dr. Patricia Daly and Dr. Réka Gustafson, supported the store-in-store model over the wine-on-shelves one.

As to when Vancouverites will see the inaugeral grocery store with a liquor store, Holms said it depends on the number of applicants.

“It’s preferable because it won’t increase the number of outlets, but it might increase accessibility, the availability, depending on whether the hours of grocery stores are affected,” Dr. Daly said. The health authority also prefers the store-in-store model as it protects youth who might normalize alcohol if its advertised openly on shelves, makes age restrictions easier to enforce, and doesn’t exclude underage workers from cashier job opportunities.

“Just to remind you—alcohol is exceedingly available in this city, with over 90 percent of people being within a 15 minute walk of a liquor outlet,” Dr. Daly said. “For the public to want even greater convenience when they know the associated harms, I think we have to be cautious in how we approach that.”


What do you think of the store-within-a-store model? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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