Booze in B.C. grocery stores? Not just yet, premier says

B.C. Premier Christy Clark watered down the provincial appetite for alcohol sales in grocery stores during a news conference Wednesday and poured out a dozen other likely changes to B.C. liquor regulations.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark watered down expectations of access to booze in grocery stores Wednesday

At a family-run estate winery in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley, Premier Christy Clark announced her government's support for a set of 12 key liquor law modernization recommendations, but said more work needs to be done before grocery store sales would be allowed. (B.C. Government Flickr)

Premier Christy Clark says she's trying to get the mix right before British Columbia permits the sale of beer and wine in grocery stores.

During a news conference in West Kelowna Wednesday, Clark said she's aware British Columbians support the convenience of beer-and-wine sales in grocery stores by a four-to-one margin, but suggested proposal for allowing beer-and-wine sales in grocery stores still need work.

"I'm concerned about the public safety aspect of that," she said. "We need to pay real close attention to that, at the same time we are making sure that B.C. products benefit from it, and health and safety is protected. But the public told us really clearly that they want convenience. We're trying to see if we can make that work."

When it comes to selling beer and wine in grocery stores, Clark said her government must weigh public convenience against public safety and the promotion of B.C. products.

Clark's Liberal government is reviewing B.C.'s liquor laws, saying rules and regulations governing alcohol require modernization.

Last month, Liberal parliamentary secretary John Yap submitted a report to the Justice Ministry that included 70 recommendations, including what he said was overwhelmingly the most popular wish among British Columbians, allowing beer-and-wine sales in grocery stores.

The Justice Ministry stated at the completion of the liquor review that 75 per cent of all comments — more than 3,587 private emails and letters, 188 stakeholder submissions, and 4,364 blog comments — were in favour of more convenient access to beer-and-wine sales.

At Wednesday's press conference, Clark announced that her government is supporting a dozen of Yap's recommendations, including permitting winemakers, craft brewers and specialty distillers to sell their products at farmers' markets and secondary tasting rooms.

Private liquor-store operators say selling beer and wine in grocery stores threatens their livelihoods and poses risks for alcohol sales to minors.

With files from CBC News

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