Time for British Columbia to modernize its liquor laws

John Yap suggests that beer, wine and spirits should be made available in grocery stores but in a separate section of the retail outlet.

Selling liquor in grocery stores is totally logical and long overdue.

Last week, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Reform Policy John Yap recommended that British Columbians be allowed to buy beer, wine and spirits in grocery stores following a review of the province’s liquor laws.

According to his report, over 75 per cent of residents who blogged, posted or tweeted their opinions on the province’s liquor policy review policy were in favour of opening up retail outlets.

It’s about time.

Yap said in a news conference last week that, given the overwhelming response from the public, selling alcohol in grocery stores was the number one recommendation in his report given to Justice Minister Suzanne Anton. His suggestion was that beer, wine and spirits should be made available in grocery stores but in a separate section of the retail outlet.

From a consumer point of view, one-stop-shopping is time efficient and convenient. Grabbing a six pack and a bottle of wine at the same time as picking up groceries is a no-brainer in today’s retail world.

The existing purchasing controls are out of step with consumer’s expectations. It’s time to dump the nanny state mentality. We’ve been attached to this adolescent umbilical cord linked to controlled sales way too long.

Some private beer and wine stores see the recommendation as threatening their share of the marketplace or making beer and wine more accessible to minors. But if alcohol is sold in a separate section of a grocery store with proper ID required at the checkout, minors will have no greater ease of access than trying to buy alcohol through current outlets.

“We’re light years behind Europe, the U.K. and the U.S. when it comes to the sale of alcohol in stores,” said bartender Ken Lewis in Ucluelet. “I don’t see any problem with sales in grocery stores, especially if it’s in a designated area. A separate area inside a grocery store would be off limits for minors so the argument that beer and wine would be more accessible makes no sense.”

Nor is that argument about some noble cause to protect minors. It’s about protecting the bottom line.

According to the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C. at the University of Victoria, alcohol consumption in Canada has increased slightly after declining a little since 2009/2010. Alcohol consumption in B.C., which for several years has been higher than the Canadian average, decreased slightly in 2012/2013. B.C. residents consumed 8.48 litres of absolute alcohol per person per year in 2012/2013. For the record, one litre of absolute alcohol equals 58 standard drinks.

The provincial government will look at models from different provinces including the store-within-a-store concept in Nova Scotia and Ontario and the Quebec model of selling domestic and imported beer as well as local wines. Yap also recommended that the moratorium on the 731 private liquor stores be kept in place.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the country, accounting for 8.1 per cent of all household spending on food and beverage. Every dollar that Canadians spend on beer generates $1.12 to the Canadian economy. In 2012 Canadians bought the equivalent of 235 bottles of beer per person at both private stores and agencies, the beer economy supports 163,200 jobs across the country (1 in every 100 Canadian jobs) and the industry suds up $5.8 billion in annual tax revenues across the board.

“Beer has been a part of Canadian life for hundreds of years,” said Pedro Antunes, director, National and Provincial Forecast, CBC. “The beer economy is a significant employer. No matter where people buy beer, they support jobs across the country.”

Bottoms up, I say.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A police vehicle turns on to Landing Drive on the Skwah Reserve on Thursday, March 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
One man charged after allegedly pointing firearm at Chilliwack RCMP officer

Richard Joseph Williams faces 6 charges after March incident near McCammon elementary and Skwah

Linnea Labbee outside the Chilliwack Law Courts on April 1, 2021 on day 16 of her trial in BC Supreme Court where she is charged in connection with the fatal hit-and-run of a 78-year-old woman on Mary Street on Dec. 1, 2016. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crown seeking jail time for 72-year-old Chilliwack woman found guilty in fatal hit-and-run

Trial of Linnea Labbee who struck and killed 78-year-old woman in 2016 ended Monday

RCMP patch. (File)
Young prolific offender from Hope faces another raft of charges

Jacob Paul Sihata charged in 3rd set of serious incidents since he was 19

Former Merritt Centennial and current Chilliwack Chief Jackson Munro (left) evades Merritt’s Chase Cook during a weekend BCHL game at the Chilliwack Coliseum. (Darren Francis photo)
Goalies lead Chilliwack Chiefs to pair of wins in weekend BCHL action

Mathieu Caron picked up a shutout Friday and Jakob Gullmes earned his first BCHL victory Sunday

Environment Canada says the Eastern Fraser Valley will enjoy plenty of sunshine this week. (Black Press News File)
Sunny weather to stay around all week in Eastern Fraser Valley

Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Hope all forecasted for a week free of rainfall

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Surrey RCMP are seeking the public's help to locate three puppies stolen from a South Surrey home on April 10. (Surrey RCMP photos)
Puppies stolen during weekend break-and-enter in South Surrey

Surrey RCMP seeking public’s assistance in locating three American Bulldog puppies

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Mounties say they “corralled” four Ford Mustangs April 4 after an officer saw the muscle cars racing down 184 Street near 53 Avenue at about 10 p.m. (File Photo)
Mounties impound four Mustangs

Surrey RCMP say they seized four cars for street racing

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Most Read