It’s rare that BC Liberal MLA hopeful Doug Clovechok and NDP MLA Norm Macdonald agree on anything, but both share the opinion that changes to B.C.’s liquor laws are long overdue and much needed.
Not only is there consensus, but the one major concern that had the industry very worried — the previous suggestion that in order for grocery stores to be eligible to carry and sell B.C. wines, they could not be located within one kilometre of a liquor store — has been declared null and void as the province has now said that the one-kilometre restriction will not apply. This news was probably extremely well-received in the valley. Mountainside Market in Radium would not have qualified; nor would Valley Foods and Sobeys.
The one grocery outlet already giving the others a run for their money — Joe’s No Frills — would have, which could have compounded the issue of the Crossroads shopping area luring consumer traffic away from downtown Invermere.
It will be interesting to see which local stores will make the investment to create specially designated registers and train staff to meet the guidelines; or if the wine-on-shelves model will simply become the norm across the board.
No doubt, B.C.’s wine industry will profit as intended, encouraging more growth, more investment, and more jobs.
What’s also interesting is that the Liberal government doesn’t appear to be too worried about the cocnerns raised by NDP MLA and liquor critic Shane Simpson, that the flagrant self-promotion of B.C. wines may be challenged by stores and suppliers in the U.S. as it may violate trade agreements.
Premier Christy Clark has said the new liquor laws will bring B.C. into the 21st century. As Macdonald points out, wine is an easy victory when there are a number of other provincial issues that are in dire need of such a unique and progressive approach as what the province is giving wining and dining.