Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Wine battle brewing

by Kate Bouey -CASTANET Aug 2, 2016 / 5:00 am 
Independent liquor store owners in Vernon are going to fight the big guys. Fearful that grocery store chains are planning to buy local licenses to sell wine, the owners hope to convince city council not to grant them. “It could have a huge impact,” said Claus Larsen, general manager of the Vernon Atrium Hotel & Conference Centre. The BX Creek liquor store resides beside the hotel building. “It could affect staff as we have seen in other communities.” He said a large delegation from the independent liquor stores would attend an Aug. 15 city council meeting when a presentation would be made. Last year, two specialty stores in Kelowna relinquished the rights to their licences, transferring them to the Overwaitea Food Group and allowing OFG's Save-on-Foods grocery store chain to sell VQA wine at Orchard Park and Mission locations. That began earlier this year. The issue has also taxed city council in Kamloops. Apart from the financial impact, Larsen pointed to the “accessibility to alcohol for 15, 16 and 17 year olds” if wine is sold in the grocery stores, where the underaged are allowed to go. Larsen said independent owners had already been speaking with some members of council, including Mayor Akbal Mund and Coun. Catherine Lord. The group, along with a representative of ABLE BC, an alliance of beverage licensees, met with staff from the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce last week. The chamber remains “neutral” at this time, according to Larsen. However chamber staff have offered to help “steer the ship through the bureaucracy,” Larsen added.

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