The B.C. government is one step closer to permitting liquor sales in provincial grocery stores.
According to the government, 80 per cent of people who have responded to the current liquor policy review were in favour of the idea. Today it announced it would examine allowing those sales as part of a wide range of changes to liberalize liquor distribution in the province.
Several other Canadian provinces currently allow some form of liquor sales in grocery stores, including Quebec, where grocery stores can sell domestic and imported beer and Quebec-bottled wine, and Nova Scotia, where provincial liquor authorities have opened government liquor stores within grocery stores.
The recommendation on grocery store liquor sales is one of several expected in the final report, which John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform, will deliver to Justice Minister Suzanne Anton on Nov. 25.
"I've heard strong support for liquor sales in grocery stores and the added convenience it would afford B.C. families," said John Yap, Liberal MLA for Richmond-Steveston and Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform John, in a written statement.
"There's no doubt this would be a big shift in our province — so we will be taking a thoughtful approach and carefully considering which model could work best for B.C., while taking into account all the concerns we've heard about the dangers of increased access to minors. We must also balance health and public safety with any improvement to convenience, should we proceed in this direction," Yap said.
The government won't consider allowing supermarkets to apply for licenses to sell booze, however. Instead, it will examine a model where existing licensees, like private and government stores, move their operations inside a supermarket.
And any changes are still a ways off, with the government expected to debate the recommendations in the spring, when the legislature resumes sitting.
Public input is being accepted on the proposal until Oct. 31.