VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The MLA responsible for a review of BC’s liquor laws is recommending liquor sales be available in grocery stores.

If the BC government accepts the idea, beer, wine and even hard liquor would find their way onto grocery store shelves. But John Yap suggests a “store within a store” model, where alcohol would be sold in a separate area from the food, saying it would ensure “continued restricted access to alcohol for minors.”

He says there is an appetite for grocery store liquor sales. “Liquor sales in grocery stores received considerably more attention, interest and support than any other topic during the course of the liquor review.”

“[There was] over 75 per cent support for greater convenience [and] access to liquor in grocery stores.”

Yap notes that his recommendation is for grocery stores, not corner stores.

“I also feel it is critical that government maintain the current cap on the number of retail outlets in the province. By doing this, and by keeping liquor separate from grocery products, we can increase convenience without any increased risk to the health or public safety of British Columbians,” he says.

Yap suggests a phased-in approach to a new retail model.

This is one of more than 70 recommendations Yap is making; the full report won’t be released until early 2014.

Critic wants more answers

The NDP thinks the idea is a good one but says we still don’t know enough.

“He’s said there’s going to be a limit on the number of stores. What does that mean in terms of who then gets to be in these stores within a store?” wonders Critic Shane Simpson.

“How do these big stores make money? Will the Costco own the liquor store, or will they have somebody else come in?”

Simpson feels the Liberals have announced this recommendation to move attention away from a bad week of news around BC Hydro, child poverty, and jobs.

Private liquor outlets disappointed

Ian Baillie with the Alliance of Beverage Licensees (ABLE BC) is disappointed, considering the hundreds of millions of dollars private stores have already invested.

“What the trend is larger stores, certainly, that are nicer, and provide all the craft beer selections [and] provide a range of made-in-BC products.”

He feels the province already has convenient access to liquor under the current model.