NEWS/ CITY HALL — A proposal by a City councillor to put a one-km separation rule on wine outlets is “misinformed,” says a spokesperson for Kamloops’ burgeoning wine industry, calling for the public to help put a stop to it.
Trish Morelli, executive director of the Kamloops Wineries Association, said Coun. Marg Spina’s motion “will effectively block the local Kamloops wineries and other 100 per cent B.C. wineries from being able to showcase and sell their local wines alongside other B.C. Agrifood products in a high traffic channel that they have never been able to access before.”
“WHEREAS the new liquor licenses do not stipulate distance parameters;
“AND WHEREAS the City of Kamloops wishes to continue a one kilometer distance rule for any new licenses, whether they be a Licensee Retail Store (LRS) or Grocery Auctioned B.C. Wine License coming into Kamloops;
“THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Kamloops Zoning Bylaw No. 5-1-2001 be amended to institute a distance parameter of one kilometre for future liquor licenses and stores.”
B.C. has had a one-km rule in issuing new licences but it would be lifted for the sale of B.C. wines in local boutiques.
Spina put forward a notice of motion last month that would stop new outlets from opening within a kilometre of existing ones. Coun. Pat Wallace seconded the motion, and Councillors Donovan Cavers, Tina Lange, Arjun Singh and Denis Walsh also supported it.
Deputy Mayor Ken Christian and Coun. Dieter Dudy were opposed. Mayor Peter Milobar declared a conflict of interest because he owns a liquor store.
The issue will go to a public hearing in late August or early September before the proposal is adopted.
Under provincial liquor reform, grocery stores will be able to sell B.C. wines. MLA Todd Stone earlier this week was quoted as calling Spina’s idea “ridiculous.”
“I don’t believe it’s good public policy to allow too many stores in one area,” Spina said when she brought forward her motion. “Certainly we pay for the social costs of any social consequences of this.”
Spina said her motion was “the best bet to protect our fledgling wine industry.”
However, the wine industry doesn’t see it that way.
Morelli said Spina’s plan would rob the local industry — which recently unveiled a Kamloops Wine Trail marketing plan — of an opportunity to access a large group of local consumers.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for small wineries who are unable to distribute through larger liquor stores,” she said.
“This could be a real game changer for the little farm gate wineries of B.C. and Kamloops. Why would our City council try to block this? The new farm-to-table wine-on-shelf license for grocery stores is not and should not be considered as or treated as a liquor primary retail outlet.
“This is a safe, healthy and modern approach to showcase B.C. wine.”
She said there’s “no evidence whatsoever that this would pose any health or safety risk to the people of B.C.”
Morelli said putting wine in a Surrey SaveOnFoods store has proven successful.
“Why should the residents of Kamloops and wineries of Kamloops be denied the right to enjoy a new liquor licensing policy that has already been passed by the government and people of B.C.?”