The provincial government of British Columbia is apparently considering allowing alcohol sales in grocery stores but restrictions are likely to apply.
The move would bring BC into line with provinces such as neighbouring Alberta but it is unlikely that the review will allow sales to be as cheap as they are there.
According to the Vancouver Sun, the parliamentary secretary for the BC Liquor Policy Review, John Yap, is considering a “store within a store” set-up, of the kind that already exists in Ontario.
This would allow already licensed liquor distributors to sell beer and wine – but no spirits – in supermarkets.
In rural areas of the province, local stores are already allowed to obtain liquor licences.
Yap said that during nearly three months of consultation, 80% of responses to the idea had been positive.
Vancouver is currently enjoying a craft brewing boom and brew pubs in popular locations such as Granville Island and Gastown have risen exponentially since 2008, the number of seats in licensed premises having grown from 7,800 to 11,200.
During a talk in downtown Vancouver earlier this week Yap said: “The idea of selling beer and wine, particularly in grocery stores has been such a popular one, that we are going to start exploring which models work for BC.”
Yap will submit a recommendation to the BC government on 25 November and citizens in the province are being encouraged to put forward their support and/or concerns to Yap’s department which remains open until Thursday of this week.
BC’s on-trade has also suggested that the province introduce a “Happy Hour” – BC is the only Canadian province not to allow it – as well as a flat tax on alcohol which would lower tax on beer, wine and spirits by 15% to 20% and allowing patrons to pour their own wine in restaurants.
Police in Vancouver have expressed concerns over the potential for an increase in binge drinking, fighting and sexual assault.
Earlier this year, the BC government announced major changes to existing liquor laws which allowed breweries and distilleries to sell their products on-site.
The current proposals and changes are part of a wholesale change to alcohol sales in the province that have been on-going since mid-2012.