Liquor could one day be available at British Columbia grocery stores, but not everyone is toasting the news. The public input segment of the provincial review of liquor regulations ended Thursday, and now the government is lifting the veil on its intentions to reduce red tape on booze.
The Ontario model, in which separate liquor stores exist inside grocery stores, is one of the possibilities. The review was under the direction of John Yap, parliamentary secretary for the B.C. Liquor Policy Review.
Other options under consideration are loosened restrictions on children accompanying parents in pubs, and allowing "happy hour" sales of liquor at reduced prices so pub owners can attract customers during slower periods.
The public input process for a review started almost three months ago. An online website and government blog have been used to take and report public viewpoints. A majority favour a liberalization of the rules, although some have expressed health and safety concerns about easier access to alcohol.
Nanaimo liquor retailers generally look less favourably toward alcohol sales in grocery stores.
"I would be concerned for people who have a large sum invested," said Paul Manhas, owner of four liquor stores in the mid-Island region.
"Government encouraged people to go into it, then after a few years they change it."
Harry Beck, a partner in the Harewood Arms, and its adjacent liquor store, said liquor sales in grocery stores will "just put a ton of people out of business."
While he understand if a majority of people support the convenience of liquor sales in grocery stores, he said more social problems would likely arise.
"It's a drug, and you've got to have some control over it," Beck said. "The bottom line is (government is) looking for more revenue, so they sell more booze." Input will be accepted at the government blog, at http://bit. ly/1gaBOVa until midnight tonight. Then Yap will compile his final report reflecting that feedback, and input from stakeholders for Attorney General and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton.
We want to hear from you. Send comments on this story to email@example.com. Letters must include daytime phone number and hometown.
© Copyright 2013